Today's Paper

3 killed in Pak. church attack

ISLAMABAD Dec. 25. Three persons were killed and at least 10 injured tonight when unidentified assailants hurled explosives in a United Presbyterian church in Pakistan's central Punjab province, police said. The attack took place at 8:30 p.m., when two men wearing "burqas" (veil) threw hand grenades into the church during an evening Christmas service, an Interior Ministry official said here.

No one has so far claimed responsibility for the incident. Security had been stepped up in Pakistan ahead of Christmas celebrations.

The attack came the same day that police announced that they had found explosives and ammunition near a heavily-guarded church here. Church officials feared they had been the intended target of an attack, but went ahead with yuletide services.

The Pakistani security officials said they found a shopping bag in bushes containing two handmade grenades and 20 shell casings about 100 metres from the St. Thomas' Protestant Church. ``I don't know what the motive was of the people who left these two hand grenades and some other ammunition,'' a senior Interior Ministry official, Brig. Javed Cheema, said.

Attack in Bengal

PTI reports from Kolkata:

Twenty armed men attacked a church in Nadia district of West Bengal with bombs during the midnight mass, injuring six persons, including the chief priest, and looted money and valuables from the church safe and devotees.

The assailants threw bombs inside the premises of the church, located near the Karimpur-Chapra highway along the India-Bangladesh border at Maliapota, before storming the prayer hall where the midnight mass was being held with about 1,200 devotees, the Deputy Inspector-General of Police (HQ), N.C. Ghosh, said.

The gang snatched wristwatches and other valuables from the devotees before escaping under the cover of darkness and fog.

The chief priest suffered cut injuries in his hand while resisting the attackers. The mass, which was disrupted by the attack, resumed later.