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Posted: 3/19/2002 9:02:01 AM EDT
Two Pakistani Officials Fired After Church Attack By Simon Denyer Reuters ISLAMABAD (March 19) - Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf removed the capital's two most senior police officers Tuesday after a weekend grenade attack on a church killed five people including two Americans, the government said. No one has claimed responsibility for Sunday's rampage but the spotlight has fallen on hard-line Islamic groups opposed to Musharraf's support for the U.S.-led war on terror and his clampdown on Muslim militants. A U.S. diplomat's wife and daughter were among the victims, as well as a Pakistani and an Afghan. Musharraf expressed ''dismay'' Monday at the security lapse that allowed a man laden with grenades to walk into a church in Islamabad's diplomatic enclave where dozens of foreign diplomats and aid workers were worshipping. He summoned senior government and security officials on Tuesday to review law and order after the attack. ''The participants took a serious note of the recent lapse in security and decided to remove forthwith the Islamabad police officials,'' the government said in a statement via the official APP state news agency. ''The prevailing law and order environment cannot be allowed to continue,'' the statement quoted Musharraf as saying. ''Hard decisions have to be taken.'' Officials earlier told Reuters the capital's inspector general and senior superintendent of police were among those relieved of their posts. The church attack followed the kidnapping and murder of U.S. reporter Daniel Pearl, who was abducted in the volatile southern port city of Karachi on Jan. 23. ABJECT FAILURE The violence in one of Pakistan's most protected areas threatens to scare off much-needed foreign investment and commentators said it has damaged Musharraf's credibility as an effective partner in the anti-terror campaign. In a statement, representatives of the tiny Christian community condemned ''the brutal and barbaric terrorism at the place of holy worship'' and blamed the authorities for ''carelessness, negligence and irresponsibility.'' They declared March 24 a day of mourning and fasting. Suspicion is growing that the fifth body -- blown to pieces and as yet unidentified -- may have been the grenade-lobbing assailant. ''There's nobody who has said 'My husband was at church and he didn't come home','' a U.S. diplomat told Reuters. ''The fact that nobody has come forward saying somebody is missing is one of the reasons leading some people to wonder if the body might be that of the attacker.'' Forty-two people from various nations were wounded in the attack but hospital officials said all were in stable condition and out of danger Tuesday. The toll of dead and wounded could have been much worse. Children had been sent to the basement of the church to attend Sunday school just before the attack.
Link Posted: 3/19/2002 9:05:26 AM EDT
they got off easier than the victims.
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