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News – More violence against Pakistan’s Christians

April 2009

More violence against Pakistan’s Christians

 

Christian families from a Presbyterian Church in Pakistan have been attacked by gunmen, who killed one woman and injured seventeen others, according to reports from Release International.

     A gang armed with guns and wooden clubs attacked the church and Christian homes in Sangowali Village District, Gujranwala, in north-east Pakistan. The dead woman was named as 35-year-old Shakeela Masih. Three others are still in hospital with head and back wounds.

     Eighteen-year-old Rafaila Masih described the attack in which her mother was killed: ‘We were at home. All of sudden, the doors burst open and Muslim men carrying weapons and wooden rods rushed in. One of the attackers hit my mother repeatedly with a weapon on her head. She fell to the ground. She died in my arms’.

     Shakeela had two daughters and a young son, Sharoon. ‘My mother died helplessly’, he told Sharing Life Ministries Pakistan (SLMP). Shakeela’s husband, Manzoor Masih, described his wife’s death as ‘an irreparable loss’.

     The minority Christian community of some 45 families live in a mainly Muslim area. It took police 30 minutes to get through to the families because of the heavy gunfire. By the time police arrived the gunmen had left.

     According to local reports, the incident followed a complaint to the police by a young Christian man, Imran Masih, who claimed he had been beaten and robbed of his mobile phone. Twenty-year-old Imran was one of those injured in the subsequent attack.

     Two Christian men remain in hospital with head injuries, and an 80-year-old widow is still undergoing treatment for injuries to her head and back. Naziran Bibi is said to be in severe pain.

     Assist News Service reports claims by a Christian pastor that a group blocked the road leading to the hospital to try to prevent the injured Christians from receiving treatment. Pastor Patras claimed police vehicles had to be brought in to ferry the injured to hospital. He described the situation as ‘very tense’.

 

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