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Massacre of Christian Community Thwarted in Pakistan

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A massacre of a Christian community near Peshawar was prevented by alert security forces Friday morning, in what is being called the first such intervention for a Christian community in Pakistan. 

"Though in great fear of another attack, Pakistani Christians have praised security forces. The current government have a long way to go but are exhibiting signs of good governance towards minorities,” said Wilson Chowdhry, chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association.

“The fact that Christians are so often the target in terrorist plots is starting register and security strategies have improved as a consequence. Even then something has to be done to exterminate both the extremists group and the pervading hatred for minorities amongst the general populace, that together make life for Pakistani Christians and other minorities in Pakistan untenable," he added.

Chowdhry was previously interviewed about the status of Christians in Pakistan by Clarion Project.

The Christian community that came under attack is located near the Warsak Dam on the Pakistan-Afganistan border. The community, which consists of about 30 families, consists of houses, a small school and a church.

Four suicide bombers from Jama-ul-Ahrar, a faction of the Pakistani Taliban, infiltrated the community from inside Afghanistan in the early morning hours of September 2, storming the church at 6 am in an attempt to assassinate all the Christian worshippers.

Because of the early hour only the security guard was present, but he was able to hold off the attackers and call Pakistani security agencies until his ammunition ran out and he was killed by the terrorists.

Pakistani intelligence agencies, who had intercepted communications between the attackers and their handlers, say the intended target was the attack was a nearby military camp and school.

When the attackers saw that avenue had been thwarted, they opted for the Christian community, which they hoped to fully wipe out.

After killing the security guard at the empty church, they decided to blow themselves up inside individual Christian homes.

However, by then they were met by security officials who had been called by the  security guard before he was killed. Two of the bombers were killed by security officials while two others blew themselves up.

One of the bombers managed to get inside the house of Farukh Masih, a member of the community. Masih reported that the bomber first said prayers to Allah before detonating his suicide vest.  By a miracle, only the bomber was killed and Masih’s family remained unharmed.

"I thank God for saving my family and myself.  In the few moments we had to think, we all just prayed to Him for protection. By His power we have all survived and the evil man who tried to take our lives will now answer to Him," he said.

The attack came just a day after Pakistani official Asim Bajwa reported that progress made against militants in the country's northwestern region. That operation has been on-going for the last two years.

Although this time the result was positive, Christians in Pakistan know they are vulnerable to attacks. After each attack, the pattern of the government has been to assure Christian communities that they will be provided with security, but in practice, this has not happened.

Thus, terrorists know they are a soft target, which is why Christians in Pakistan have been subjected to so many attacks.

 

Editor’s note: At press time, news was emerging of similar attacks in the areas of Khyber Pakhtunkwa, which has kept all Christian communities in the area fearful. Initial reports show that 13 people were killed when a suicide bomber threw a hand grenade and blew himself up near the entrance of the district and sessions court in Mardan.

 

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Meira Svirsky

Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org

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