At least eight Christians have been killed and 57 injured when two suicide bombers attacked a packed Bethel Memorial Methodist Church in Quetta, Pakistan while the congregation gathered for Sunday worship. There were at least 400 people in the church.

Security personnel took timely action and killed one terrorist, but unfortunately the other terrorist blew himself up, which resulted in the loss of several lives.

The gunmen were wearing suicide vests when they stormed the church, before being confronted by armed police guards.

The church was on high alert as Christian places of worship are often targeted by Islamist extremists over Christmas.

Over the last decade Pakistan has launched several military offensives against Islamist militants who want to install their own harsh brand of religion in the country.

Nasir Saeed, Director of CLAAS-UK, expressed his grief and said: “My heart goes out to the victims and their families. It is especially sad as Christmas is only a week away and Christians, already in the Christmas spirit, have been attacked.

“Attacking worshipers, especially over the Christmas season, is an act of cowardice. It is condemnable and such hate and violence cannot help anyone to make a place in heaven.”

He said that Christians are the most peaceful but vulnerable community in Pakistan, who equally struggled for the independence of Pakistan and played a vital role in its role in development.

“But sadly, their Churches, honor and properties are under constant attack. We still remember the attack on Youhanabad church, Peshawar church and Gulshan Ravi Easter attack,” he said.

Mr Saeed said: “It is the state’s responsibility to provide security and protection to its citizens and especially minorities who are constantly being targeted. The Government has failed to give them assurances of security and resolve their issues. The majority of Christians are disappointed and they don’t see their future in Pakistan. Many are fleeing the country they struggled for with the Quaid e Azam the founder of Pakistan.”

He praised the timely actions of the security guards at the church in Quetta and said their intervention prevented the loss of more lives. He said there is a need to heighten security around Christian towns and churches as there are only a few days left for Christmas.

Mr Saeed demanded that the injured must be treated well and provided with the best treatment and victims and families must be compensated.

Mr Saeed also thanked the Muslim leadership who equally showed their concern, condemned this perilous attack and asked the government to enhance security at churches.