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Catholic offices damaged in Lahore bomb massacre

LAHORE, Pakistan (CNS): A massive suicide bomb targeting a government building killed 23 people and badly damaged Catholic buildings in Lahore.

The bomb exploded at 9.30am on March 11 outside the Federal Investigation Agency office, causing serious damage to nearby Sacred Heart Cathedral, Sacred Heart Cathedral High School, St Anthony’s College, St Paul Communication Centre, the Caritas Pakistan building, a Catholic press building, a convent and catechists’ house, the Asian church news agency UCA News reported.

Initial reports said the blast killed two students at the church schools – one at Sacred Heart and one at St Anthony’s – and injured more than 100.

Four members of the Caritas Pakistan staff were hospitalised for their injuries. Caritas Internationalis is the Vatican-based umbrella group for national Catholic charities around the world.

Caritas Internationalis president, Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa sent a message of condolence to Caritas Pakistan and decried the bloodshed that continues “to destabilise Pakistan”.

Archbishop Lawrence Saldanha of Lahore felt the blast from his room, which overlooks the scene.

“These are attempts to destabilise the country,” the archbishop told UCA News.

He said he hoped the new government elected in February would “resolve the issue through dialogue”.

Another blast that occurred simultaneously in the Model Town area of the city injured several people and demolished an advertising agency.

Muslim militants have been targeting government institutions in suicide bomb attacks. One such attack on the Lahore High Court killed 23 people on January 10. Last year, more than 500 people were reported killed in similar attacks around the country.

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