PESHAWAR/ISLAMABAD/LAHORE - Our Staff Reporters / Agencies - Angry Christians protested across Pakistan on Monday to vent their anger at the authorities and demand better protection after a devastating double suicide bombing at a church killed more than 80 people. The attack on All Saints Church in Peshawar after a service on Sunday is believed to be the deadliest ever to target country’s small Christian minority.

Highly agitated Christian stood up in arm on Monday in many parts of the country, blocking highways and other transport arteries and indulging in firing, ransacking and violence in which dozens of people were injured.

In Islamabad and Rawalpindi, more than 600 Christian protesters blocked the Expressway for several hours during morning rush hour, burning tyres and causing long tailbacks. Stick carrying protestors also badly beaten up the bike riders and smashed the cars. When the traffic was being diverted, a woman coming from Lahore died and her son seriously injured in an accident.

The Christians also took out a rally in Blue Area and marched to D Chowk in front of the parliament where around 2,000 people staged a sit-in.

In Peshawar, around 200 demonstrators took to the streets, smashing windows at the main Lady Reading Hospital, where many of the victims were treated, and blocking the main Grand Trunk Road. In front of All Saints Church, more than 100 people chanted slogans demanding justice and attacking the national government for failing to protect Christians.

And they had harsh words for Imran Khan, whose PTI runs government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. “Imran and his CM have failed to protect Christians at their praying centres,” said Khalid Shahzad, who lost five family members in the attack. “The government and Imran Khan are just making slogans, there is nothing practical. They do not have any sympathy for minorities.”

Former Interior Minister Rehman Malik too was attacked by angry protesters at Lady Reading Hospital of Peshawar where he came to visit the blasts injured. When surrounded by a huge crowed of angry people, Malik initially tried to leave the hospital but finding no way to the outside, he took refuge in the chief executive’s office.

Our Staff Reporter from Karachi that one person was killed and several others injured in Esa Nagri area in Zaman Town, where Muslims led by activists of a defunct extremist organisations engaged in an armed clash with Christian protesters. During the exchange of fire around half a dozen people, including two cops, sustained bullet injures while 26-year-old Nazar Iqbal succumbed to his wounds. A house, shop and few motorbikes too were torched in the violence.

Muslims and Christians have been living side by side in this area for decades. The friction started with pelting of stones at a mosque by some enraged Christian youth on Sunday but their elders apologised from the mosque administration the same day. But during Monday’s protests, things got out of control. Police arrested around 25 alleged miscreants but situation was tense in the area and law enforces were asking people on loudspeakers to remain at home.

Protests against the Peshawar bombings were also held in Khuda Ki Basti, New Karachi, Sakhi Hassan, Juhar Chowrangi, Kala Pull, Mehran Town, Korangi Industrial Area, Nazimabad, Shahraha-e-Faisal, Michel Town Korangi, Orangi town, Regal Chowk and at Karachi Press Club.

Lahore saw more than a dozen demonstrations including those held at Faisal Chowk and Regal Chowk on The Mall; at Lahore Press Club, Ferozpur Road, Thokar Niaz Baig, Liberty Roundabout, Bhatta Chowk, Walton Road; and in Youhanabad, Shahdara, Sanda, Makka Colony, Garhi Shahu, Baghbanpura.

Protestors blocked Lahore-Multan highway while protest demonstrations were also held by the Lahore High Court Bar Association at the GPO Chowk. Majlis-e-Wahdat-e-Muslimeen, Pakistan Awami Tehrik, Punjab Paramedics Alliance, Join Action Committee (JAC) and others also held protests.

In Hyderabad, Christian community held protests at Latifabad No. 5 and 10. Reports of similar protests were also received from Quetta, Bahawalpur, Sargodha, Vehari, Burewala, Pakpattan, Khanewal, Chicha Watni, Sahiwal, Sialkot, Okara, Sangla Hill, Khuzdar, Karak and other places. The legal fraternity on the call of Pakistan Bar Council held strike across the country on Monday.

In a statement issued Monday, Churches of Pakistan appealed the protesters to remain peaceful during protests. It asked them not to be violent and refrain from damaging properties.

On the appeal of Suni Itehad Council Chairman Sahibzada Hamid Raza, 30 Muftis of the council issued a decree against Peshawar church attack. In their fatwa, they declared that such attacks were worst kind of sin and totally against the teachings of Islam. Islam does not permit attacking any worship place of any religion rather it was necessary to protect the minorities, they noted. They said it was a conspiracy to speared hatred among the believers of different religions.

Meanwhile, all the 81 people killed in Sunday’s bombings were laid to rest. However, another two of the more than 145 injured succumbed to their wounds on Monday. All Saints Church was reopened for prayers on Monday. Peshawar City SP Ismail Kharak said that besides formation of a four-member probe committee, a new security plan has been prepared for protection of minorities.

According to an initial probe report, suicide bombers appeared to be 20-25 years old. Police said eyewitness accounts about the attackers were contradictory as some said they were in police uniform while others denied it.

A faction linked to the Pakistani Taliban on Sunday had claimed the attack but on Monday, the main spokesman for the umbrella TTP said they were not responsible. “We haven’t done this nor do we attack innocent people,” Shahidullah Shahid, the spokesman said. “It was an attempt to sabotage the atmosphere of the proposed peace talks.”

Speaking in London late on Sunday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said the government was “unable to proceed further” with talks in the wake of the church attack. A private TV channel reported on Monday that government is mulling massive action against terrorists across the country as it has decided to go to any extent for eradication of terrorism.