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Thursday, 28 March, 2002, 11:01 GMT
Pakistan church suspects held
Christians at a protest demonstration in Peshawar
Tensions are high among the Christian community
Police in Pakistan have detained 30 people in connection with the attack on a church in the capital Islamabad 10 days ago.


We faced strong resistance when we raided eight hideouts in different parts of the city

Tassadaq Hussain, Faisalabad police chief

The arrests followed a series of overnight raids in Faisalabad in Punjab province.

"These raids were in connection with the church attack in Islamabad", the police chief of Faisalabad, Tassadaq Hussain, told AFP news agency.

"One person was killed and four others were injured during the exchange of fire", Mr Hussain said.

Five people were killed, including two Americans, when attackers threw grenades into a Protestant church in the diplomatic quarter of the capital on 17 March.

No group has said it carried out the attack, which also left more than 40 injured, but suspicion has fallen on hardline Islamic groups opposed to Pakistan's support for the US-led war on terror.

No charges

None of those detained has been formally charged so far.

Soldiers guard a Catholic church in Islamabad
The government is taking no chances

A BBC correspondent in Islamabad said most of the people had been taken in for questioning.

Police have released little details of those detained.

"We have not ascertained the identities and nationalities of the suspects so far", said Mr Hussain.

He said the suspects have been handed over to the police in Islamabad.

Little progress

Investigations have been slow into the attack which came at a crucial time for Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, who pledged in January to crack down on Islamic extremists operating in Pakistan.

Aside from the two Americans - an administrator at the US Embassy and her daughter - an Afghan and a Pakistani were among those killed in the attack.

The fifth body has not been identified so far.

The Home Minister, Moinuddin Haider, said he might have been one of the assailants but investigators were still trying to establish his identity.

Meanwhile, police released the sketch of a clean shaven young man with curly hair they suspect of being behind the grenade attack.

The sketch was published on Wednesday in all major newspapers in Pakistan, accompanied by the offer of a reward for information which could help investigators.

See also:

27 Mar 02 | South Asia
Sketch of church attacker released
26 Mar 02 | UK Politics
Diplomat families 'can leave Pakistan'
23 Mar 02 | South Asia
US staff prepare to leave Pakistan
18 Mar 02 | South Asia
Pakistan probe into church attack
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