09/09/2021, 13.30
PAKISTAN
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Attack on a Lahore Pentecostal church leaves several people injured

by Shafique Khokhar

During Sunday service, a group of Muslims opened fire and attacked Christian homes. For the secretary general of the Pakistan Minority Rights Commission, great efforts are being made to protect minorities, yet violence is increasing.

Lahore (AsiaNews) – Christians were attacked once again last Sunday. The targets were a Pentecostal church, The New Hope Church of Pakistan, in Sheracote, a district in Lahore, and the homes of some faithful.

A group of Muslims opened fire during Sunday service at 2.30 pm, injuring several people, both men and women. A pregnant woman was among the victims; for some, the injuries are life threatening.

“I was cleaning a room when suddenly I heard shots coming from the street. I fainted for a while,” said Rukhsana Bibi, one of the victims of the attack.

After regaining consciousness, “I remembered my three-year-old son was playing in the courtyard. I ran out to him. While I was rescuing my son, a stone broke a window and a piece of glass injured my hand.”

According to witness accounts, Christians, especially women in Sheracote, had been the victims of harassment in previous days; families going to church were mocked and insulted with offensive language.

Last Sunday, things got worse, threats and insults were followed by an actual assault against the church and homes.

The attackers “had military-style weapons and fired directly at the houses,” said Christian journalist Simon Aleem. They “wounded several people, including the New Hope Church pastor, Rev Asif Nawab Masih.”

Roheel Zafar Shahi, secretary general of the Pakistan Minority Rights Commission, also reacted to the incident.

“The government is making great efforts to protect and safeguard minority places of worship,” he said. “Unfortunately, in the last three years, incidents and abuses against minorities have increased by 40 per cent.”

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