Woman, daughter with ties to Md. killed in Pakistan

5 die, dozens hurt in grenade attack in Protestant church

Teen attended Howard High

March 18, 2002|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Two Americans with Maryland ties were killed yesterday when two men walked into a Protestant church during the sermon and threw several grenades.

Barbara Green and her daughter, Kristen Wormsley, a 17-year-old high school senior who had attended classes briefly at Howard High School in Ellicott City, were killed in the attack.

Altogether, five people were killed and at least 40 wounded, many seriously. Most of them were foreigners.

Green was an employee in the human resources center at the U.S. Embassy in the capital, Islamabad. Her husband, Milton Green, is director of the computer section at the embassy. He and the couple's young son were also injured, but not seriously, U.S. Embassy officials said.

After the Sept. 11 attacks, the spouses and children of U.S. diplomats had been sent home. They had been allowed to return only six weeks ago. Barbara Green had left Pakistan with her children and had returned last month.

The attack occurred at the Protestant International Church, a nondenominational church in the diplomatic enclave, 400 yards from the sprawling U.S. Embassy compound.

"The attack this morning on worshippers in Islamabad was a cowardly act that took the lives of five innocent people and injured many more while they were worshipping," U.S. Ambassador Wendy J. Chamberlin said last night.

President Bush said he was outraged and that the deaths were "acts of murder that cannot be tolerated by any person of conscience nor justified by any cause."

No group claimed responsibility for yesterday's attack, and police said they had few clues. The grenades were Russian-made, but that apparently offers little insight, because in parts of this country, grenades and automatic rifles are readily available.

One of those killed was a Pakistani citizen, another an Afghan. The fifth victim had not been identified, and police said it might be one of the attackers. The man will be difficult to identify because of his wounds, police said.

"It's a miracle" that only five were killed, said a German aid worker who survived. Altogether, 13 Americans were injured. Citizens of at least nine other countries were among the wounded.

The church was about half-full, with 60 to 70 worshippers there at the time of the attack. Many diplomats and foreign aid workers have still not returned to the country.

Security warning

On Friday, police in Karachi advised the U.S. Embassy that "elements connected to the kidnapping and murder of [Wall Street Journal reporter] Daniel Pearl are considering kidnapping more American citizens," according to a public warning issued by the embassy. The embassy urged Americans to increase their security and to travel in groups.

It was not clear whether the attack was aimed at Americans, foreigners more broadly or Christians.

"It is a terrorist attack designed to embarrass the government," said Islamabad police chief, Nasir Khan Durrani.

Along with siding with the United States in the war against terrorism in Afghanistan, Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, has been carrying out his own war against domestic terrorists. He has banned several militant organizations, and police have rounded up several hundred suspected terrorists.

In recent days, diplomats and Pakistani intelligence officials have expressed the fear that the banned groups were putting their operations back together and that further terrorist attacks were likely.

Information about yesterday's attack was hard to come by, with differing reports about the number of attackers and the number of grenades.

"There were four, five blasts, one at the back that alerted us all," said Nicholas Parham, who works with a British aid agency, Tearfund. "Then [the attacker] ran up the center aisle just past where I was."

He said the man had one grenade in his hand and several more on his belt. "I didn't know whether he was going to blow himself up," Parham said. "I hit the deck, and then there was another blast."

The glass was blown out of every window and huge holes were punched in the ceiling.

The injured were taken to the Federal Government Services Hospital, a run-down facility with grimy walls and soiled sheets. American security personnel in civilian clothes were on guard in the halls as American medical teams treated the injured.

A body lay on a rickety metal trolley, covered by a sheet. A man came in, pulled back the sheet slightly, looked at the face, then sat down, put his head in his hands and began to sob.

An American woman wearing a maroon baseball cap walked over to comfort him.

"We couldn't see anything, it happened so fast," said a German at the hospital. He had trouble hearing a reporter's question. "Our ears are blocked" from the blasts, he said, putting his hands to the side of his head.

After yesterday's attacks, the embassy urged Americans to stay in their homes and to avoid public places if they do go out.

A classmate remembered

In Ellicott City, classmates remembered Kristin Wormsley as a bright and talkative girl with a keen knowledge of world events.

"She was really smart," said Daniel Rappaport, 15, a sophomore at the school who shared a third-period American government class with her. "The first day she was in class, the teacher asked about a current event, and she seemed to know what was going on." She had been in his class for three weeks before her family moved back to Pakistan, said Rappaport, who added that he was shocked that violence overseas could hit so close to home.

"The president is talking about [the bombing], and this girl sat right next to me," Rappaport said.

Sun staff writer Lynn Anderson contributed to this article.

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