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RAWALPINDI, Aug 9: Three nurses — and an attacker — were killed while 25 others injured in a terrorist attack on a chapel in the Taxila Christian Hospital, on Friday, police and eyewitnesses said.

Some 70 to 80 worshippers, including the families of the Christian Hospital staff, were coming out of the chapel after taking part in the prayer services when two of the terrorists threw hand-grenades on them at 7.45am, police said.

Quoting eyewitnesses, the police said three unidentified persons, clad in Shalwar and Kameez and carrying handbags, were stopped by the security guard at the gate of the hospital.

The three men were allowed to go in after they convinced the guard that they wanted to see their “patient” admitted in the hospital. Once they had a look inside the wards, they came out and started moving towards the chapel.

On seeing this, the guard intercepted them, but he was overpowered and held hostage at gunpoint by one of the attackers.

“One of the assailants stumbled while throwing the hand-grenades and was killed on the spot. His two accomplices made good their escape,” District Nazim Raja Tariq Kiani told newsmen at the scene of attack.

Kiani said the worshippers, including women nurses, were stepping out of the chapel after the prayer services when the terrorists struck.

The body parts of those killed were scattered all over the place. The attack also caused considerable damage to the chapel building, with its as well as that of hospital building’s windowpanes shattered.

Aghast at hearing the grenades explode, the people from the surrounding areas rushed to the scene. The atmosphere was tense as some people, who were anxious about the welfare of their near and dear ones admitted to the hospital, exchanged hot words with the police, eyewitnesses said.

The victims were identified by the authorities as Ms Bushra, Ms Julian and Ms Nazeeran.

The injured were identified as Liaquat, Ms Sanam, Ms Joseph Lal, Ms Jameela, Ms Gulzar, Ms Munera Petrik, Ms Pascal, Ms Shazia, Ms Vaan, Ms Perveen, Ms Hameeda, Ms Shafee, Ms Salome, Ms Shoumila, Ms Zakia, Mushtaq, MacDan, Assero, Barkat Masih, Amir Shahzad and Sarseer. The identity of other injured could not be ascertained.

They were shifted to the POF and other hospitals. No one has so far claimed responsibility for the ghastly strike.

A police source said that one live hand-grenade, Rs20 and a packet of Naswar had been recovered from the body of the suspected terrorist.

The police said it assumed that the terrorist was killed due to the firing by his accomplices when they were fleeing.

It is too early to say who was behind the attack, the police said. Security in the twin cities has been tightened after the attack.

It was the second terrorist attack on Christian community in a week and the fourth on a place of worship in Pakistan since the Sept 11 terror blitz in the US. The police have started a manhunt to catch the culprits.