March 17, 2002

Organizations dealing with religion and public policy have joined President Bush in condemning an attack on a Protestant church in Pakistan that left five dead during a worship service on March 17.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations criticized the grenade attack on the Pakistan International Church in Islamabad that killed two Americans and injured more than 45 people.

"We condemn this attack in the strongest terms possible and call for the apprehension of the perpetrators," said Omar Ahmad, chairman of the Washington-based Islamic advocacy group, in a statement.

"It is not only an act of terrorism against innocent civilians, but is also an assault on the sanctity of a house of worship. No political or religious cause could justify such horrifying violence."

The Institute on Religion and Public Policy, a Washington-based think tank, also condemned the attack.

"This is part of a continuing effort by extremists and militants to try to destabilize (Pakistan) President (Pervez) Musharraf's government and to intensify the notion that intolerance and religious hatred is the desired state of affairs in Pakistan," said Joseph K. Grieboski, the institute's president, in a statement.

President Bush also expressed outrage at the violence.

"I strongly condemn them as acts of murder that cannot be tolerated by any person of conscience nor justified by any cause," the president said in a statement.

The attack came during the sermon, prompting stunned worshippers to dive for cover under chairs and behind cement pillars, the Associated Press reported. Among the dead were Barbara Green, a U.S. Embassy worker, and her 17-year-old daughter, Kristen Wormsley. The injured included people from more than 10 countries.

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