Twin bombs outside two churches in the Pakistani city of Lahore killed 14 people and wounded nearly 80 during Sunday services.
Witnesses said quick action by a security guard prevented many more deaths.
The blasts in a majority Christian suburb of the eastern city went off minutes apart.
Police said it seemed that the blasts targeted two churches, one Catholic and one Protestant, that are very close to each other.
“I was sitting at a shop near the church when a blast jolted the area.
I rushed towards the spot and saw the security guard scuffle with a man who was trying to enter the church, after failing, he blew himself up,” said witness Amir Masih.
“I saw his body parts flying through the air.
”The guard died as well. It was not clear if the first blast was also a suicide bomber,” Masih said.
Fourteen people were killed and 78 wounded, said Zahid Pervaiz, provincial director of general health.
Taliban splinter group Jamaat-ul-Ahrar claimed responsibility for the blasts.
According to an agency report, up to 4,000 Christians later took to the streets of the eastern city, many armed with clubs as they smashed vehicles and attacked a city bus station in a rare show of anger by the beleaguered minority.
The bombings occurred during prayers at two churches located around half a kilometre apart in the city’s Youhanabad neighbourhood that is home to more than 100,000 Christians, officials said.
Doctor Mohammad Saeed Sohbin, medical superintendent of the nearby General Hospital, told AFP: “We have received 14 dead bodies and 70 injured,” adding that the figure did not include the suspected militants who were lynched or the bombers.
Zahid Pervez, the top health official in Lahore, confirmed the death toll and told reporters that 78 people were wounded in both attacks.
Broken window panes, blood and shoes were scattered across the blast sites.
Police spokeswoman Nabila Ghazanfar said two policemen guarding the churches were among those killed in the attacks, while two people were beaten to death by protesters who took to the streets after the blasts.
“Policemen on duty at both the entrances tried to stop them but the bombers blew themselves up,” she told AFP.
Another report by Associated Press (AP) says the explosions occurred in quick succession in the Christian neighborhood of Youhana Abad at two churches while parishioners were celebrating Sunday morning services inside.
The churches are about 600 meters (650 yards) apart.
At least 70 people were wounded, said Zahid Pervez, the provincial director general of health, who gave the death toll.
One unidentified witness told Pakistan’s Geo television that the main gate to one of the churches targeted was closed so people were using a smaller gate.
“One bomber exploded himself near that gate, that created chaos and during the course there was another blast,” he said.
In the aftermath of the blasts the mood quickly turned violent. Much of the country is on edge after years of militant violence including an attack on a Peshawar school in December that killed 150 people — mostly students.
BBC reported that a large crowd gathered at the scene of the blasts, protesting about the lack of security.
The crowd also attacked two men it accused of involvement in the explosions, killing both of them.
Photographs from the scene showed a crowd setting the men’s bodies alight.
Protesters carrying sticks blocked Lahore’s Ferozepur Road. Local television pictures showed a bus station being attacked.
SOURCES: NBC News, AFP, AP,