October 28, 2001.
BAHAWALPUR, Pakistan (CNN) -- A group of bearded men on motorcycles opened fire on a Sunday morning church service, killing at least 16 people, including a police officer, officials said. At least five others were critically inju
The Rev. Jim Nuttle, a Catholic priest at the church where the shooting happened, said about 50 people were in the church when the attack began at the end of the first service at 9 a.m local time. The men rode up on motorcycles and shot a police officer who was a church security guard, Nuttle said. The men then stormed the church and began "shooting indiscriminately with automatic weapons," he said. Many people were able to escape. "They were in the church for a full five minutes. ... They left as quickly as they came; they left a great deal of carnage in the church -- people dead, dying," Nuttle said.
The priest for the Church of Pakistan, which was having services at the time of the incident, was not in the church when the shooting began. Nuttle said many believe the shooting was in retaliation for the bombing in neighboring Afghanistan. An investigation is under way to determine who is responsible.
Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, has sent two federal ministers to Bahawalpur -- about 230 miles (370 kilometers) southwest. to express condolences to the families. Musharraf said he blamed terrorists for the attack.
"The method used and the inhumane tactics employed clearly indicate involvement of trained terrorists of organizations bent upon creating discord and disharmony in Pakistan, where Christians and Muslims have always lived in peace with mutual respect for each other," Musharraf said. He gave his assurances that justice would be served. "I shall not comment any further on the identity of the terrorists until the investigation is concluded," Musharraf said. "I would however like to assure everyone that we should track down the culprits and bring them to justice." Nuttle noted that this type of violence was rare in Pakistan. Funeral services for the victims were planned for Sunday evening, he said.