Twenty thieves broke in overnight on Saturday, November 26 and tied up the guards and pastor. The latter was threatened with death and had to reveal where the valuables were. In the past three years, six similar robberies of church property, and two burglaries at a convent.
Gazipur (AsiaNews) - At least 20 thieves looted the Catholic church of Mathbari in Gazipur, near Dhaka (capital of Bangladesh). On Saturday night [26 November] the criminals broke into the enclosure, and weilding knives tied up the night guards and the pastor.
Speaking to AsiaNews Fr. Vincent Bimal Rozario, the pastor, said he was awakened in the middle of the night and tried to scream, "but the thieves warned me to remain silent. They wanted to kill me with sharp weapons. They asked me where the money and valuables were. I was forced to tell them".
The robbers seized the night guards and bound their hands with ropes. To avoid attracting the attention of the faithful, they gagged them and then broke down the door. After tying the pastor up, and under the threat of death, they raided the church, taking away a camera, laptop, money to repair the tombs, two watches, a mobile phone and other goods for a value of 100 thousand taka [ 1190 EUR].
One of the guards was injured during the attack and is now hospitalized. The next morning, Fr. Bimal Rozario filed a complaint at the police station. Police opened an investigation and promised to step up surveillance of the church.
Despite assurances, the pastor is concerned about the safety of the community. In the last three years there have been six similar incidents in Church properties and two other robberies in the local convent. This is the convent where in 2014 two nuns of the Immaculate (female congregation associated with the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions) were assaulted and raped.
Msgr. Gervas Rozario, vice president of the Bishops' Conference of Bangladesh (CBCB), says: "It is very sad that robberies take place in churches. We are concerned about this incident. " According Chandon Rozario, another Catholic, "the priests and nuns sacrifice their lives for the Church. It is inhumane that they are victims of theft and persecution. I strongly condemn what happened. I ask that a proper investigation is conducted and that the perpetrators are found".
The Mathbari parish is made up of about 3500 Catholics. The church also has a girls' high school, entrusted to the sisters.