Karachi (AsiaNews) –Irfan Masih, the 11-year-old boy wounded on 22 April during a Taliban attack against Christians in Tiasar Town near Karachi, has died. In critical conditions from the start, the boy slipped away after five, agonisingly long days.
Fr Emmanuel Yousaf Mani, the director of the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), led a delegation to the site of the attack. The group, made up of clergymen and lay people, visited the wounded in hospital and then met leaders of the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM), the only Pakistani party that is opposed to the introduction of Sharia in the Swat Valley.
On 22 April a gang of armed extremists attacked a group of Christians in Tiasar Town, a Karachi suburb, setting six homes on fire and seriously injuring three Christians. One of them was Irfan Masih, whose conditions were serious from the beginning.
Father Mani urged the local Christian community to “remain united”, reassuring them that the NCJP would provide them with free legal aid when matters reach the courts.
According to NCJP activists, the Taliban attacked the Christians because they were wiping off insulting graffiti from the walls of local homes and the local church. The Taliban had scribbled words that incited hatred and violence, like ‘Taliban are coming’, ‘Long live Taliban’ and ‘Be prepared to pay Jizia (Tax for non-Muslims) or embrace Islam’.
The Taliban in question are ethnic Pathan who live opposite the Christian settlement.
The attack took place in two stages. In the second one, around 3.30 pm, Irfan Masih was hit to the head by a gunshot.
The Muslim attackers also stormed several Christian homes and destroyed many copies of the Bible.
Only when Pakistani paramilitary forces moved in a few hours later did things get back to normal.
Christian activists have complained that police from the nearby Surjani station stood idly by when the attack took place.
As an explanation of their inaction, the agents said that both Christians and Muslims opened fire.
However, only Christians were hurt or killed. Five Muslims were arrested, caught brandishing weapons used during the attack.
Taiser Town is home to some 700 Christian families; 300 of them are Catholic from the St Jude Parish Church (Karachi Archdiocese). Their parish priest is Richard D’Souza.
The families used to live in a more central area of Karachi but were evicted and forced to move to the outskirts of the city.