Officials in Pakistan have warned that jihadist groups, some with links to Islamic State (IS), are threatening attacks against Christians in churches, schools and hospitals.
A report from international advocacy group Barnabas Fund, said mission partners in the majority Muslim country had reported an increase in violence against Christians, and officials had warned Christians to take extra caution.
One pastor was told that he should no longer take his customary morning and evening walks, and others were cautioned not to meet with unknown parties.
The report from Barnabas Fund revealed that Islamist terrorist groups are expected to first target the north-western region of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which borders Afghanistan.
The Gatestone Institute, a non-partisan international think-tank, said the groups that are plotting to attack Christians are Pakistani Taliban splinter groups that have apparently pledged alliances with the leader of IS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. It is claimed that even Hafiz Saeed Khan, former Pakistani Taliban commander, made an oath of allegiance to the so-called Caliph in January.
In June, Jundallah, the group that claimed it was behind the twin suicide bombing at a church in Peshawar on 22 September 2013, said, ‘The Jundallah will attack kafir Shiites, Ismailis and Christians’. And, last November, the group’s commander, Farhad Marwat, said Jundallah was behind attacks against Jewish and Christian aid workers in Quetta, Pakistan.
Barnabas Fund highlighted the fact that Pakistani police officials are often unwilling to stand on the side of unjustly targeted Christians, and many times the police have been complicit in anti-Christian attacks.