Pakistani police stand guard
Pakistani police stand guardAFP file

The deadly bombing at a church in Pakistan on Sunday sparked angry protests across the country on Monday. The BBC reports that protesters gathered in several major Pakistani cities on Tuesday as well.

The death toll from the double bombing in the city of Peshawar hit 85 on Tuesday morning as several of those wounded in the attack died of their injuries. The victims were targeted as they walked out of church after services.

Two groups linked to the Pakistani Taliban have claimed responsibility for the attack, and have declared that they will continue to target non-Muslims in response to United States drone attacks. However, the Pakistani Taliban itself condemned the attack.

On Monday, protesters blocked roads across the country, including in the capital city Islamabad. Several hundred people blocked a highway in the capital during rush hour, and later in the day 2,000 protested opposite parliament. 

The protesters demanded better protection for Christian communities.

A protest in Karachi ended in violence as Christian protesters and Muslims pelted each other with stones. Police ended the conflict by firing into the air. One Muslim man was killed.

In Peshawar, protesters derided politician Imran Khan, whose party runs the provincial government. “Imran is a dog,” they shouted.

Khan has condemned terrorism, but has been criticized for failing to take military action against the Taliban.

Police officials said extra security has been provided at churches and other Christian institutions in Peshawar. The government has announced three days of mourning over the attack.

The Times of India reports solidarity rallies on Monday and Tuesday in Indian Christian communities. While the Church of North India showed its sympathy with Pakistani Christians by asking the Indian government to speak to Pakistani leaders on their behalf, the All India Christians Dharam Yudh Morcha took a more militant approach, burning effigies of Pakistani leaders during an angry demonstration.