Monday, August 24, 2009

In the Name of Blasphemy, Pakistani Christians Under Frequent Attack - 8

Muslim Extremist Attacks on Christian Villages, Churches, Schools, Hospitals and Church Personnel (Contd.)

Murree Christian School (an old church turned into a school)
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Gunmen Kill Six and Injure Three in Murree Christian School

2002 (August 5):
Four masked gunmen stormed the Murree Christian School, a missionary educational institution for foreign students, at Jhika Gali in Murree, north of Islamabad, and killed six persons and wounded three. Luckily none of the students were affected.

This small boarding school, located above 7000 feet in the Himalayan mountain foothills in Pakistan, was founded in 1956 for education of children of foreign Christian missionaries, serving in Pakistan and neighbouring countries. It had about 150 students between the ages of six and 18 studying in grades 4 to 12.

Witnesses say that the security guards averted a bloodbath by stopping the gunmen from entering a classroom full of children. In the firefight, two of the security guards, a cook and a carpenter were killed.

It is also reported that the attackers left behind a note stating that they were opposed to the injustices endured by Muslims around the world.

This school attack was the third on a Christian target and sixth on foreign interests in Pakistan since that country, under President Pervez Musharraf, joined the US and its allies in the fight against global terrorism after 9/11 in 2001.

Grenade Attack Inside Presbyterian Hospital Chapel in Taxila

2002 (August 9): Three armed men exploded grenades inside the chapel of the Presbyterian hospital at Taxila, 25 miles north-west of Islamabad, killing three Christian nurses and injuring 20 other people -- all Pakistanis. One of the gunmen was also killed from a shrapnel that pierced his heart from his back. The attack took place at 7:45 a.m. Hospital accounts officer Clement Bakshi said: "The nurses were coming out of the chapel when someone threw the explosives."

Seven Christians Killed at the Committee for Justice and Peace Office in Karachi

2002 (September 25): Two gunmen entered the office of the Idara-e-Aman-o-Insaf (The Committee for Justice and Peace), a Catholic non-government organization (NGO) in Karachi, tied the staff in their chairs with their hands behind them and shot each one on the head, instantly killing six persons and wounding two -- one of whom died later in the Civil Hospital.

No one claimed responsibility for the heinous attack, but Christians strongly felt that it was the premeditated plan and assault of Muslim extremists bent on avenging US invasion of Afghanistan. Different extremist groups in the past several months blamed Pakistani and foreign Christians in the country to be stooges of the US and other Western powers.

Nisar Memon, Information Minister of Pakistan, denounced the attackers as "enemies of Pakistan." He said that the violence would not shake country's resolve, but "Pakistan's cooperation with the world community in the war against terrorism will continue."

Archbishop Simeon Pereira of the Catholic archdiocese of Karachi expressed his deep sorrow and grief at the senseless murder of seven Christians. He urged the Christianity community to remain calm and not allow hatred or the feeling of revenge to take root in their hearts, reminding them of the Christian virtues of Faith, Hope and Love. "Forgiveness is the lesson we learned from the Lord. Let us continue to show love and mercy to those who hate and target us, and act according to the spirit and pray for those who have lost their lives."

Rev. Ijaz Inayat, Bishop of the Church of Pakistan (Anglican), condemned the brutal attack and termed it a crime against humanity. "We are a peaceable people and want protection of life and property."

Shahbaz Bhatti, President of the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance, blamed the Islamic militants sympathetic to Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network and the hard-line Taliban regime ousted from neighbouring Afghanistan.

Idara-e-Aman-o-Insaf, working among the poor and marginalized, had been labouring for the last 30 years to obtain basic employment rights for textile and municipal workers and undertaking programmes with local human rights groups.

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