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    » 04/28/2009, 00.00

    PAKISTAN

    Boy wounded in Taliban attack near Karachi dies

    Qaiser Felix

    Irfan Masih, 11, succumbed to gunshot wounds he suffered to the head. Five other people were also injured in the attack during which Islamists set fire on Christian homes and Bibles. Activists complain about police inaction.

    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.

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    See also

    23/04/2009 PAKISTAN
    Taliban attack Christians in Karachi
    Six people are wounded by gunshots, including an 11-year-old boy, now in critical conditions. Residents in the area that was attacked have locked themselves in. the attack comes after pro-Taliban slogans, calling on Christians to convert to Islam, appear on church walls.

    10/06/2009 PAKISTAN
    Suicide bomb on Peshawar hotel, 15 dead more than 70 injured
    Two UN employees among the victims. 500 kgs of explosives packed on board the car. No one has so far claimed responsibility for the attack, Taliban suspected. Pakistan’s President and premier condemn the bombing and reiterate “all out war” on terrorism.

    05/04/2007 PAKISTAN
    Life of 11-year-old Christian in danger even though he is not charged with anything
    Blasphemy accusations have been made against five Christians, the youngest a 16-year-old, after a quarrel between boys that was blamed on the 11-year-old. Local Christians are afraid that he might become the target of violence.

    12/05/2009 PAKISTAN
    Army and Taliban battle it out in “the most dangerous nation in the world”
    Commandos assault Piochar where 4 thousand militants are entrenched. Ten dead, among them a six year old girl, in a suicide attack. Rocket attacks on girl’s schools and the sanctuary of a Pashtun poet. A Canadian Minister describes Pakistan and its nuclear arsenal “the most dangerous nation in the world”.

    09/05/2009 PAKISTAN
    Islamabad, final offensive against the Taliban. One million civilians flee
    The provincial government and United Nations announce a humanitarian emergency in Swat Valley. The death toll from the clashes is 170 fundamentalists and 10 soldiers. The United States approves an aid package of 1.9 billion dollars.



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