Washington D.C.(International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that four heavily armed terrorists attacked a Christian neighborhood in Peshawar, Pakistan, killing one Christian and damaging dozens of houses.
Early this morning, September 2, 2016, four terrorists from the Jamaat ul-Ahrar group attacked a Christian neighborhood in the Warsak Dam Road area of Peshawar, the provincial capital of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province. During the attack, Samuel Masih, age 50, was shot and killed by the terrorists as he left the neighborhood to his job as a sanitation worker.
“As soon as Samuel opened the main gate of the [neighborhood] to reach his work place, he received eight bullets fired from the terrorists,” Thomas Masih, a Christian who witnessed the attack, told ICC. “Therefore, he expired immediately.”Local security forces and police engaged the terrorists and attempted to keep them from entering the Christian neighborhood and causing more damage. Although the terrorists were unable to kill more, they were able to damage dozens of Christian properties, Gulshan Bhatti, a local activist, told ICC.
Christians and their places of worship have become regular targets for Pakistan’s Islamic extremists. Earlier this year, a suicide bomber from the same terrorist group, Jamaat Ul-Ahrar, attacked a public park in Lahore, expressly targeting Christians celebrating Easter. On March 15, 2015, suicide bombers from the same group attacked St. John’s Catholic Church and Christ Church in Lahore’s majority Christian neighborhood of Youhanabad.
In September 2013, suicide bombers from the Pakistani Taliban attacked All Saints Church in Peshawar, killing more than 130 Christians who were gathered for Sunday worship. This series of attacks has left many Christians upset with the lack of security provided for their community by the government. “For years and years we have been requesting the authorities to ensure the protection of Christians,” Thomas Masih told ICC.
“However, Christians have not protected according the threats levels which is an alarming situation.”“Since independence, Christians have been serving this country but have never been regarded for their loyalty,” Gulshan Bhatti explained to ICC. “The state does not recognize Christians, Hindus and Sikhs as equal citizens and therefore they are always [a]soft target for the terrorists.”
ICC’s Regional Manager, William Stark, said, “It is sad to see another senseless and extreme act of violence unleashed on Pakistan’s already vulnerable Christian community. Unfortunately, Christians and their places of worship are seen as convenient targets by Pakistan’s terrorists. Not only are they poorly protected by Pakistan’s security forces, they are also seen as an extension of the West in Pakistan.
Following the bombings of All Saints Church in 2013, Pakistan’s Supreme Court wrote asuo moto opinion that demanded the Pakistani government take steps to secure both Christians and their places of worship. Many of the reforms detailed in that opinion have yet to be enacted. Because of this inability or unwillingness to protect the Christian minority, Christians in Pakistan have suffered more major assaults by the country’s terrorist networks. Pakistan must do more to secure its Christian minority or else attacks like these will continue.”
Pray for comfort for the bereaved and strength for the Church in Pakistan