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The funeral service of slain Pakistani Catholics in Quetta, April 3, 2018. The funeral service of slain Pakistani Catholics in Quetta, April 3, 2018.   (AFP or licensors)

Two attacks on Pakistani Christians after Easter. Four Catholics killed

In an attack on Christians in Pakistan on April 2, Islamic State militants have killed four Catholics

Four members of a Catholic family were killed in a militant attack in the southwestern province of Balochistan on Easter Monday, and in another incident the following day, a group attacked worshippers in a Christian church in Punjab province, injuring many.

Quetta terrorist gun attack

The deadly April 2 gun attack took place in the Shah Zaman area of Quetta, the capital of the restive Balochistan province.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement carried by its Aamaq news agency. 

"Four Christian relatives were going to a nearby market on an auto-rickshaw when two unknown gunmen on a motorbike opened fire on them," police officer Moazzam Jah Ansari told UCANEWS. "It was a targeted attack and an act of terrorism," he added.

Pervaiz Masih, Tariq Masih, Imran Masih and Firdous Bibi died in the attack while a 10-year-old girl was injured.

Relatives on holiday

A neighbour, Aftab, told UCANEWS that Pervaiz Masih, a rickshaw driver, was taking his relatives to an ice cream shop after dinner when they were targeted just outside their home. 

"Pervaiz Masih had been living in Quetta for 10 years. His relatives came from Lahore and Dubai for the first time to celebrate Easter with him on March 29," Aftab said.

Aftab said the whole community was in a state of shock. 

Assault in Punjab province

The following day, April 3, a mob forced its way into the Gospel Assembly church at Village 77/4R in Punjab's Sahiwal district, beating up the worshippers.

Pastor Cecil Daniel told UCANEWS that "more than two dozen men carrying sticks forced their way into the church and beat up the Christian worshippers."  Among the injured were women and children, he said.

Mubarak Masih, a Christian human rights activist, said police had yet to take action against the attackers. 

"The village has around 200 Christian families who are confined to their homes over fear of further violence," he told UCANEWS.

Tension in Faisalabad

The attack came a week after supporters of a hardline Islamist group attacked the minority Christian community in Faisalabad, the second largest city in the eastern province.

Tension began when activists of Tehreek-e-Labaik (TLY) painted the wall of a Christian house adjacent to Good News Church with pro-Islamic slogans.

This led to a day-long violent clash between Christians and Muslims with both sides using firearms.

"Police have booked five Christians under anti-terror laws while no action has been taken against TLY activists for instigating the violence," Masih said.

Massiha Millat, a Christian political party, has strongly condemned the rise in attacks on religious minorities.

"The attacks have become so frequent that it has become difficult to keep count," general secretary Aftab Gill told UCANEWS.

"The Punjab government has failed in its constitutional duty to protect the rights of Christians living in the province."

Around 2 percent of Pakistan's population of 208 million are Christians. (Source: UCANEWS)

04 April 2018, 14:32