Okara: armed mob attack Christian church
by Shafique Khokhar

Four vandals tied up the guardian and desecrated the building. The police assure full cooperation. Fr Khalid Rasheed Asi: "The perpetrators wanted to generate panic, but we must remain calm and continue to pray".


Okara (AsiaNews) - "They threw the Holy Eucharist out of the tabernacle and scattered and dishonoured the holy books". These are the words of Younus Masih Gill, a member of the Church of St. Camillus de Lellis after a group of armed men kidnapped and tied up the sacristan and desecrated the religious building in Okara, a town 100 km from Faisalabad (Punjab). 

The custodian Allahditta Masih told AsiaNews that on January 23 he was inside the church when at about 10:30 in the evening "four armed men stood in front of the gate and asked me to come out, otherwise they would shoot me". 

They tied him up with ropes, beat him, and then locked him in. Nadeem Faisal, one of the residents in the area, called the police. When they arrived, they freed Allahditta and collected evidence.

Pastor Khalil Maqsood and Fr Khalid Rasheed Aasi, director of the Catholic Church's National Justice and Peace Commission, presented the first information report to the Saddar police station, demanding for a detailed investigation. 

Younus Masih Gill also filed a complaint against unknown persons and said that "people do not feel safe after the incident, which has disturbed the peace of the community". Fr Khalid Rasheed Asi condemned the vandalism and called on the faithful to remain calm: "The perpetrators wanted to generate panic, but we must remain calm and continue to pray that no one can harm our union," the priest explained. "The police have assured us of their full cooperation with the church and said they will soon arrest the perpetrators.