Gunmen killed a 75-year old pastor and shot another in an ambush as they left church in Peshawar, Pakistan on Sunday, January 30.
William Siraj of the Church of Pakistan was shot twice and killed. Pastor Patrick Naeem was wounded in the attack.
TV video showed people chanting “Long live Jesus Christ!” as they carried Siraj’s body on a bed to a house, according to Reuters. Mourners hugged and cried.
For the local Christian community, the shooting reignited memories of a 2013 gun and bomb suicide attack at a neighboring church in Peshawar, where Siraj’s son-in-law was killed along with 70 other Christians.
“We demand justice and protection of Christians from the Government of Pakistan,” Bishop Azad Marshall with the Church of Pakistan tweeted.
A police officer called it a “terror attack” and said, “we are determined to protect minorities.” Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province’s chief minister Mahmood Khan sent his condolences to the Christian community and Pastor Sirah’s family.
Pakistan’s northwestern area borders Afghanistan. Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, associated with the Afghan Taliban, claims responsibility for a rise in attacks in the area.
Pakistan’s interior minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed warned that terrorist sleeper cells in the region may strike over the next two months.
Pakistan is one of the most dangerous places to follow Jesus. Government authorities oftentimes do little to bring the perpetrators to justice and are accused of encouraging discrimination against believers.
For instance, some authorities distributed Covid-19 relief supplies only to Muslims and forced Christian medical personnel to work without protective equipment when treating Covid patients.
In what Open Doors calls a “silent epidemic,” Christian women and girls are regularly kidnapped, forced into marriage, and forced to convert to Islam.
- Christians in Pakistan to find refuge and peace in God in the midst of persecution.
- Terrorists to repent and their deadly plans to fail.
- Government authorities to pursue justice.