6 dead in blasts in Pakistani Christian district

LAHORE - At least six people were killed and 50 others wounded when twin blasts rocked a Christian neighbourhood of Pakistan's Lahore on Sunday, police said, with the Taliban claiming responsibility for the attacks.

The explosions occurred during prayers near two churches in the city's Youhanabad area, home to more than 100,000 Christians, sparking angry protests and mourning among the beleaguered minority community.

The Pakistani Taliban described the blasts as suicide attacks and vowed to continue their campaign for the enforcement of Sharia law.

Nabila Ghazanfar, a spokeswoman for the police, told AFP at least one policeman was among the dead, adding that a state of emergency has been imposed in the city's hospitals as the death toll was expected to rise.

Pastor David, a local cleric at the site, said: "One blast took place at the entrance of one church where a congregation was going on. Another blast took place in the second church," adding that the two buildings were 500 metres (1,600 feet) apart.

Hundreds of Christians took to the streets of the locality to protest against the police and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif criticised the attacks.

"Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif has condemned the Lahore blasts and directed provincial governments to ensure the security of public and their properties," a statement carried by state media said.

Christians make up around two per cent of Pakistan's 180 million people and have been targeted in attacks and riots in recent years, often over allegations of profaning the Quran or Prophet Mohammed.

Sunday's attack was the worst on the community since a devastating double suicide bombing in the northwestern city of Peshawar in 2013 killed 82 people.