PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistani Christians rallied Monday to denounce the deadliest attack ever in this country against the religious minority as the death toll from the church bombings the day before climbed to 85.
Two suicide bombers blew themselves up amid hundreds of worshippers outside the historic All Saints Church in the northwestern city of Peshawar on Sunday.
A wing of the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombings, saying they would continue to target non-Muslims until the U.S. stops drone attacks in Pakistan.
The bombings raised new questions about the Pakistani government's push to strike a peace deal with the militants to end a decade-long insurgency that has killed thousands of people.
"What dialogue are we talking about? Peace with those who are killing innocent people," asked the head of the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance, Paul Bhatti, whose brother, a federal minister, was gunned down by an Islamic extremist in 2011.
The death toll reached 85, after seven more of those wounded in Peshawar died overnight, according to the commissioner of Peshawar, Sahibzada Anees.
Protesters blocked roads around the country, burning tires on one of the main roads into the capital, Islamabad, as they demanded government protection.
"Our people have been killed ... Nobody seems to bother about us. No one apprehended the killers," said Aqeel Masih, one of the protesters.
Clashes broke out between Christian protesters and Muslims Monday evening, leaving one person dead, in the southern port city of Karachi, according to Police Chief Shahid Hayat. He said police fired tear gas and guns in the air to try to disperse the crowd.
Missionary schools around the country were closed for three days, said Christian leader Nasir Gill.