Pakistani Christians have called for increased protection and unity among religious minorities just days after the deadly Easter bombing in Lahore.
On Easter Sunday, 72 people died when Taliban faction Jamaat-ul-Ahrar launched a suicide attack in Lahore, Pakistan while Christians were celebrating Easter Sunday in the middle of a public park. The deadly incident left a sense of fear among the members of the Christian community, who are now beseeching the government to step up its efforts to protect them for extremists and terrorists, according to Reuters.
There are only two million Christians in Pakistan - a nation with a population in excess of 190 million - and they have been the target of multiple attacks over the past few years. In 2013, suicide bombers killed at least 78 people when they blew themselves up outside an ancient church in Peshawar after a Sunday service.
Last March, 14 people died when suicide bombers attacked Christ Church in Lahore.
The latest suicide bombing, which happened on Easter, has caused Christians to worry that local militants are now imitating ISIS' attack on those that they classify as infidels.
"Terrorists didn't used to be so focused on our community. Now all their attention is on us. Perhaps it's time for the government to turn their attention toward us also," said Christ Church vicar Irshad Ashnaz. "These people are roaming around freely and no one is stopping them."
In the wake of the deadly attack on Pakistani Christians, authorities initially rounded up more than 5,000 suspects. Punjab minister Rana Sanaullah confirmed the arrests, but added that most of the suspects had been released with 216 remaining in custody.
Sanaullah said security forces have conducted at least 160 raids since the deadly Easter bombing in Lahore. He also said they would use army and paramilitary forces in their future operations and crackdown on terrorism in Punjab.