04/04/2018, 18.39
PAKISTAN
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Islamic State kills Christians in Quetta, as Methodist church still gets threats

by Kamran Chaudhry

Christians were gunned down as they travelled on a motor rickshaw. The driver was also killed. Intimidation against Method church hit by two bombers in December continues. For clergyman, “Target killing of religious minorities has become a trend”.

Lahore (AsiaNews) – Four Christians were shot dead in Pakistan in an attack claimed by the Islamic State.

The incident took place on Easter Monday, in a Christian majority neighbourhood in Quetta, capital of Balochistan.

Speaking to AsiaNews, Rev Simon Bashir, pastor at Bethel Memorial Methodist Church, which was attacked last December by two bombers who killed nine and wounded more than 40, said Christians continue to face threats.

The victims were riding a motor rickshaw. One of the dead was the driver, Perwaiz Masih. “They were going to an ice cream parlour,” Rev Bashir explained. Sehr, a 9-year-old girl, was wounded to the leg but survived.

The funeral of the rickshaw driver took place yesterday, while the bodies of the other three victims were taken to Lahore airport.

In recent years, Quetta has seen several attacks. In addition to the one against the Methodist church, terrorists also attacked a police school and a hospital.

The clergyman noted that threats against his church continued after it was attacked. "In January someone marked an X on the pillars of the church. We wiped them off after taking pictures and calling the police. Several families also received anonymous phone calls saying that they would not even spare the dogs of Christians."

The reverend added that "After Easter prayers, police advised me to stay out of sight.”

For its part, “The Government of Balochistan allocated 26.4 million rupees (almost US$ 230,000) for the victims of the attack, but our church still needs repairs, barbed wire and higher walls ".

For Fr Emmanuel Yousaf Mani, national director of the National Commission for Justice and Peace, the tragedy dampened the Easter spirit across the country.

“Target killing of religious minorities has become a trend,” he bemoaned. “The authorities must end this and try to restore peace. Our joyous festivities are still on the radar of terrorists.”

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