Blast at Pakistan church kills more than 70

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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) — A blast at a Protestant church in northwest Pakistan killed at least 72 people and wounded more than 120, a local hospital said Sunday.

The attack took place at the All Saints Church of Pakistan, in the violence-plagued city of Peshawar, about 120 kilometers (75 miles) from the country’s capital, Islamabad.

Witnesses told CNN affiliate Geo News that at least one suicide bomber blew himself up in a crowded bazaar near the church entrance as crowds of worshipers were leaving a Sunday morning service.

Some of the victims were children, the witnesses said.

The outside of the church was peppered with debris, and crowds of men and rescue officials covered in blood.

Christians make up less than 3% of the population in the South Asian nation of 193 million.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for Sunday’s attack.

But Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, of which Peshawar is the capital, is rife with Islamic extremists and has been the site of clashes between Pakistani security forces and militants.

Earlier this month, a roadside bomb in the province killed a top Pakistani general, just a day after officials announced plans to withdraw troops from the region and pusue peace talks with Taliban militants.

ATaliban spokesman said then that there is no ceasefire with the Pakistani government, warning that such attacks will continue.

“We have killed them,” Pakistani Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid said, “as they are killing us.”

From Saima Mohsin

Journalist Sophia Saifi and CNN’s Emma Lacey-Bordeaux contributed to this report.