Saturday, August 01, 2009

Six Christians killed as violence escalates overnight in Pakistan

Last night as I posted a blog on the rioting in Korian, Pakistan on Thursday, I closed by saying that we would undoubtedly be updating you as time went on. I had no idea that it would not even be 12 hours before this situation would tragically spiral even further out of control.

This morning it was confirmed that at least six Christians were killed, including four women and a child, in rioting that escalated again in the region. According to Associated Press:

Members of a banned Muslim organization began torching Christian homes in the Punjabi city of Gora (sic) on Thursday after accusing them of desecrating pages from Islam's holy book, Federal Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti said.

"There is no truth in the allegation," he told The Associated Press, adding that he had himself visited Gojra on Friday and asked police to provide protection to Christians who were facing threats.

He accused the police of ignoring his instructions and said hundreds of radical Muslims on Saturday burned more Christians homes and killed six, including four women and a child.

Television footage from the scene showed houses burning and streets strewn with debris and blackened furniture as mobs ran at each other. Local media also reported gunfights had broken out between Christian and Muslim communities and that rioters had blocked the local railway line….

Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah said authorities had investigated the allegation of a Quran being defaced "and our initial reports say that there has not been any incident of desecration."

Sanaullah said that although the situation had calmed down by Friday, "some miscreants and extremists entered the city today and pushed people toward armed clashes."

Another minister, Dost Mohammad Khosa, said the issue of the alleged desecration had been settled.

"Today, somebody opened fire at a peaceful rally that was passing by a Christian neighborhood. That made things worse. We are sure some miscreant elements have tried to exploit the situation," he said.

Faislabad Commissioner Tahir Hussain told local television that representatives of the two communities were to meet later Saturday in an effort to calm the situation.

"Let's hope for the best. The emotions of the Muslims are very high," he said. "And the Christians again they have faced the wrath and they have faced the casualties, and their emotions are also very high." [full article]

For other news report on this latest violence, please check out Reuters, APP, Press Trust of India, Indian Express, DAWN, AFP, BBC, Al Jazeera, Xinhua, CTV

Please pray that Christians in the region will respond to this latest violence in a Christ-like attitude and that tensions will be lowered.  Pray for Pakistani authorities as they seek to bring law and order.  Pray especially for Federal Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti.

Again, we invite you to post a special prayer for the Christians in Pakistan on our Persecuted Church Prayer Wall and let them know that they have not be forgotten by either God or their brothers and sisters around the world.

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