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Boy's injuries from church blast worsen

Inside their Brandon home this week, Rees and Frankie Nickerson took comfort that things weren't worse.

Their daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren were in a church in Islamabad, Pakistan, on Sunday when a terrorist threw grenades into the sanctuary.

But the family, while injured, was going to be okay, the U.S. government initially said.

Now things don't look as good.

Six-year-old Samuel Womble, who suffered head injuries from shrapnel, was hurt much more severely than doctors first thought, the family's pastor said Thursday.

Doctors at a U.S. military installation in Europe told the family that Samuel's condition has worsened. He is in extremely critical condition with more than a dozen pieces of shrapnel lodged in his head, the pastor said.

"If things continue to develop, I do not know what is going to happen," said Pastor John Russell of the Bell Shoals Baptist Church, who spoke to the family Thursday.

The U.S. Embassy arranged for a government medical transport plane to fly the Wombles out of Pakistan on Wednesday. They are staying at a U.S. military base at an unidentified location in Europe.

Samuel's mother, Cindy, whose thighbone was crushed, underwent surgery to remove shrapnel and bone fragments from her leg. Doctors may operate again to remove more shrapnel.

Her husband Jeff, who has shrapnel in his legs, ribs and foot, also was admitted to the hospital. The grenade blast burst both of his ear drums and damaged an inner ear.

Jeff Womble threw his wife to the ground Sunday when he saw someone enter the Protestant International Church near the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad and heave grenades. The force of the grenade blast propelled his son Samuel three rows back.

The family had moved back to Pakistan in February to work for a humanitarian aid agency.

Before returning to Brandon, the family had worked in Pakistan for three years. Cindy Womble worked as a nurse, and Jeff was planning to teach English as a second language.