07/20/2018, 17.06
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Four men arrested in connection with an attack against a Catholic church in Faisalabad

by Shafique Khokhar

An armed group broke into a church in Faisalabad’s Harsa Kot Thesil Samundri District. Some 20 worshipers gathered in prayer were beaten, some sacred objects were vandalised. Police action prevented the worst. For Justice and Peace Commission coordinator, the state should protect minorities amid raising election-related tensions.

Faisalabad (AsiaNews) – Four armed men attacked a Catholic church on 13 July in Faisalabad’s Harsa Kot Thesil Samundri District. At the time of the incident, some 20 worshipers were inside praying.

The attackers beat up and threatened with firearms some of the worshippers. They also vandalised some sacred objects and tried to set fire to the building but were stopped by police after it arrived on the scene.

The aggressors were identified as two brothers, Jawad and Chingiz Iqbal, and two men, Zulkarnain and Yousaf. Jawad and Chingiz’s sister, Khatija, was also detained for trying to throw a Molotov cocktail inside the church.

According to one of the Christians present, Abaad Masih, the four armed men entered the church around the 7 pm (local time) and began to thrash everything.

Shooting in the air, they kept the worshippers who tried to stop them at a distance, and then beat them.

Some of parishioners were able to call the police, whose intervention stopped the attack. The reason for the violence is not clear: it could be a reprisal for a complaint lodged by a local Catholic against the Iqbal brothers.

Benish Patrarse, coordinator of the National Justice and Peace Commission, told AsiaNews that "the incident must be strongly condemned. We are at a crucial moment for Pakistan’s minorities because general elections are coming (25 July) and non-Muslims are always the least protected.”

“I strongly urge the authorities to take the necessary steps to protect minorities. Private citizens should not be allowed to take the law in their own hands.”

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