02/27/2008, 00.00
PAKISTAN
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Islamic extremists arrested for the murder of seven Christians

by Qaiser Felix
Karachi police detains three Muslim fundamentalists who are members of the ‘Tehreek-e-Islami Lashkar-e-Mohammadi.’ At the time of the murders in 2002 the local press and some police officials had said that they were the result of in-fighting among Christians.

Karachi (AsiaNews) – Pakistani police have arrested three Islamic militants for the 2002 murder of seven Christians belonging to Idara Amn-o-Insafa (or Organisation for Justice and Peace, a charity jointly run by Catholics and Protestants). The suspects are said to have confessed but Karachi police has not yet confirmed the news.

“We were trying to catch them since we arrested ten members of this organisation earlier,” said Senior Superintendent of Police Raja Umer Khattab. All three belong to ‘Tehreek-e-Islami Lashkar-e-Mohammadi, a very dangerous group, but their leader is still at large.

At the time of the murders the local press and some public security officials had said that they had been caused by in-fighting in the local Christian community over real estate.

“We told the police immediately after the sad incident that some militant group had done this,” said Fr Bonnie Mendes, director of the Human Development Centre, who was present at the slain Christians’ funeral. But the police did not heed that advice.

“It is good that these extremists were captured,” Father Mendes added. “Now the government has to be very strict with such elements because now they know the root causes and the people behind all this. This is the time to get the maximum information from them.”

Peter Jacob, executive secretary of the Catholic Church’s National Commission for Justice and Peace, said that the victims’ families were not properly compensated for their loss.

And as a result of the murders, the sense of insecurity that followed and the lack of government protection Idara Amn-o-Insafa ceased operations.

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