Published: 16:15 GMT Standard Time - Tuesday 22 March 2011
Two Christians shot dead in Pakistan church attack
Country/Region: Pakistan, South and East Asia
Two Christian men were shot dead in an attack on a Pakistan church by Muslim youths last night (Monday 21 March).
Yunis Ilyas (centre)
with his wife and four children
Father of four Yunis Ilyas (47), whose family is supported by a Barnabas Fund feeding programme, and newly-wed Jameel Masih (21) were killed on the spot during the incident at a church in Hoor Camp, Hyderabad. Two others were injured; one of them, Sadiq Masih, was transferred to a hospital in Karachi, where he is in a critical condition.
The incident started at around 6.30pm when Muslim youths began shouting vulgar abuse at Christians who were arriving for a prayer service at the church. The pastor and a number of other Christians remonstrated with the Muslim boys, but they continued insulting the Christian girls. The Muslim aggressors left the scene, but they returned shortly afterwards with pistols and fired at Christians as they were coming out of the church.
Wilson Saraj, Barnabas Fund's co-ordinator for South Asia, was in Hoor Camp earlier this month visiting the 41 Christian families – including Yunis' – in the area who receive monthly food parcels from the feeding programme. He spoke to the pastor of the grieving church today.
Mr Saraj said:
The church and the entire community are deeply saddened by this attack and tragic loss of these two brothers in Christ. The Christian community is feeling very insecure today; they urgently need our prayers.
The attack comes three weeks after the assassination of Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, a Christian who tirelessly defended the beleaguered Christian community in Pakistan. Christians are increasingly subjected to violence by hostile Islamists and suffer severe discrimination in public life. They have been feeling particularly vulnerable since the death of their advocate.
Barnabas Fund supports marginalised Pakistani Christians through various projects, including two feeding programmes. Yunis' family is among 855 very poor families throughout the country supported by one of the feeding programmes. The other programme supports another 860 Christian families who were severely affected by the disastrous floods of 2010.
- For Yunis' wife Sosan and four children Ulfat (27), Sobia (25), Uzma (23) and Bashir (22), for Jameel's widow and all those who are grieving their loss today. Pray that they will experience the Lord's presence and comfort.
- For the church pastor as he seeks to lead his congregation in a godly response to this tragedy; pray that he will have wisdom and strength.
- Give thanks that the police have registered a case against the suspected culprits and are pursuing them. Pakistani Christians are often denied justice; pray that this case will prove to be different.
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