Daesh claims pre-Christmas suicide bombing of Pakistan church, nine dead

A policeman guides a family after after gunmen attacked the Bethel Memorial Methodist Church in Quetta, Pakistan December 17, 2017. (Reuters)
Updated 17 December 2017
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Daesh claims pre-Christmas suicide bombing of Pakistan church, nine dead

QUETTA, Pakistan: A suicide bomb attack on a Pakistan church claimed by the Daesh group killed at least nine people and wounded more than 50 during a service on Sunday, just over a week before Christmas.
Two women were among the dead at a Methodist church in the restive southwestern city of Quetta in Balochistan province, said provincial Home Secretary Akbar Harifal.
Several of the wounded were in serious condition, police added.
Officials said police intercepted and shot dead one attacker outside the church before he could detonate his bomb. But the second managed to reach the church’s main door, where he blew himself up.
“Police were quick to react and stop the attackers from entering into the main hall,” provincial police chief Moazzam Jah told AFP.
Each attacker was carrying 15 kilograms (33 pounds) of explosive plus grenades, said civil defense official Aslam Tareen.
Daesh, in a brief statement on its Amaq news agency, claimed responsibility.
Balochistan provincial home minister Sarfraz Bugti said around 250 people normally attend the church on Sundays, but the congregation had swelled to around 400 because it was close to Christmas.
“God forbid, if the terrorists had succeeded in their plans more than 400 precious lives would have been at stake,” tweeted the home minister.
An AFP reporter at the scene saw shattered pews, shoes and broken musical instruments littered across the blood-smeared floor of the church.
Liaqat Masih, a member of the congregation, said he was heartbroken by the violence and feared for his life as the firefight erupted between one attacker and police, who were later reinforced by paramilitaries and regular troops.
“I am devastated to see many of our dear ones dead and wounded today here in front of me,” said Masih, 35.
Hours after the attack reports surfaced that a total of four attackers had been involved, with two escaping.
Senior police official Abdul Razzaq Cheema said investigators were analyzing CCTV footage to check the claim and had launched a search for any further suspects.
Christians make up an estimated 1.6 percent of Pakistan’s 200 million people and have long faced discrimination — sidelined into lowly paid jobs and sometimes the target of trumped-up blasphemy charges.
Along with other religious minorities, the community has also been hit by extremist militants over the years.
Following the latest attack, dozens of Christians protested in the northwestern city of Peshawar and called on officials to protect religious minorities.
In 2013, 82 people were killed when suicide bombers targeted a church in the city.
And last year Lahore suffered one of Pakistan’s deadliest attacks during the Easter season — a suicide bomb in a park that killed more than 70 people including many children.
The bombing was later claimed by the Jamaat ul Ahrar faction of the Pakistani Taliban.
Police and troops have been battling extremists and nationalist insurgencies in mineral-rich Balochistan for more than a decade.
Balochistan, bordering Iran and Afghanistan, is the largest of the country’s four provinces but its roughly seven million people have long argued they do not get a fair share of its vast gas and mineral wealth.
Efforts to promote peace and development have reduced the violence considerably in recent years.
The push includes continuing work on a mammoth Chinese infrastructure project — the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor — which will provide Beijing with a modern-day Silk Road to the Arabian Sea through Balochistan’s deep-sea port of Gwadar.


Drifter charged in stabbing death of champ golfer in Iowa

Updated 18 September 2018
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Drifter charged in stabbing death of champ golfer in Iowa

  • Celia Barquin Arozamena was found in a pond at Coldwater Golf Links in Ames, about 50 kilometers north of Des Moines
  • A police dog tracked Barquin’s scent to a temporary camp along a creek near the golf course, where a suspect was apprehended

AMES, Iowa: A homeless man attacked and killed a top amateur golfer from Spain who was playing a round near her university campus in central Iowa, leaving her body in a pond on the course, police said Tuesday.
Collin Daniel Richards, 22, has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Celia Barquin Arozamena, a student at Iowa State University.
Barquin was found Monday morning in a pond at Coldwater Golf Links in Ames, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) north of Des Moines. Police were called to the golf course around 10:20 a.m. to investigate a possible missing female after golfers found a golf bag with no one around it.
Officers found Barquin’s body some distance from the bag, with several stab wounds to her upper torso, head and neck, according to the criminal complaint filed Tuesday against Richards.
A police dog tracked Barquin’s scent to a temporary camp along a creek near the golf course, where Richards had been living in a tent, the complaint said. Officers found Richards with several fresh scratches on his face consistent with fighting, and a deep laceration in his left hand that he tried to conceal, it said.
An acquaintance of Richards told investigators that the suspect had said in recent days that he had “an urge to rape and kill a woman” while they were walking on a trail near the course, the complaint said. A second acquaintance told police that Richards arrived at his home on Monday appearing “disheveled and covered in blood, sand and water.” He bathed and left with his clothes in a backpack.
Investigators later recovered two pairs of shorts with blood stains and a knife that Richards allegedly gave to two other people after the slaying, the complaint said. Those two individuals were driving Richards out of town after the slaying, but he asked them to drop him off near the camp so he could get his tent and that’s when officers arrested him, it said.
Barquin was the 2018 Big 12 champion and Iowa State Female Athlete of the Year. The university said the native of Puente San Miguel, Spain, was finishing her civil engineering degree this semester after exhausting her eligibility at Iowa State in 2017-2018.
She was one of the most accomplished players in Cyclone golf history, the university said. In April, she became the second women’s golfer at Iowa State to earn medalist honors at a conference tournament when claiming the 2018 Big 12 Championship. She did it with a three-shot victory.
Barquin, who was ranked No. 69 nationally by Golfweek, ended her career as a Cyclone with a fourth-straight NCAA Regional appearance and earned All-Big 12 Team honors for the third time — the second player in Iowa State’s history to do so.
She became the third Cyclone women’s golfer to compete in the US Women’s Open Championship, the university said. The team announced Tuesday it was pulling out of the East & West Match Play in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to be with friends and family and to grieve their loss.
Iowa State President Wendy Wintersteen said in a statement on Twitter that she was “deeply saddened to learn of the tragic death” of Barquin, describing her as a “dedicated civil engineering student” and an “acclaimed golfer with a bright future.”
Head women’s golf coach Christie Martens said in a release that Barquin was “loved by all her teammates and friends” and was an “outstanding representative of our school.”
“We will never forget her competitive drive to be the best and her passion for life,” Martens said.