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Pregnant woman said to be among those injured.
Pakistan (Morning Star News) – Muslims in an area of Lahore, Pakistan on Monday (Sept. 6) fired high-powered weapons at the homes of Christians, wounding a pregnant woman and at least three other people, sources said.
A wounded Christian resident in the Shamsabad locality of Lahore’s Sherakot area, Asif Masih, said he heard shouts followed by bursts of gunfire from fully automatic assault rifles after he returned home from work that afternoon.
“When I was telling my kids to get inside, I saw a group of heavily armed men firing indiscriminately at a church located on the street,” Masih told Morning Star News. “They then trained their weapons on the homes of neighboring Christians and fired volleys of bullets at them.”
Gunmen eyeing him opened fire on him, wounding him in both thighs, he said.
“I barely managed to drag myself into my house and locked the gate, but they did not stop firing,” Masih said. “I could hear them shouting that they would not spare Christians living in the area and would also burn down our church.”
The assailants, identified as Dilshad Dogar, Butt Gas Wala and Chand Khencha, fired hundreds of bullets from Kalashnikov (AK-47) rifles and other weapons into homes in the area where more than 300 Christian families live, he said. Bullets pierced the gates of several homes, wounding three women identified as Nirma Bibi, Maria Kashif and Samina, and other Christians, he said.
“One of the injured women is six months pregnant,” Masih said. “She was hit in the leg by one of the several bullets fired at their gate, but fortunately her family members were able to secure her inside.”
Many people called the police emergency helpline after the shooting started at 2:30 p.m., but officers did not arrive until 8 p.m., he said, adding that local police have been lax in prosecuting the suspects as they were influential people. Masih was one of the complainants in the case against the gunmen.
“Our entire street has been riddled with bullets, and people have been injured, but the police have not included the sections related to terrorism in the FIR [First Information Report],” he said. “Moreover, I had stated in my application to the police that the accused had continuously threatened to burn the church and harm us, but even these facts were missing in the formal FIR.”
Registered the day after the attack, the FIR states that it arose out of a dispute between a Christian, Asghar Masih, and Dogar. Asif Masih denied the police version, saying officers were trying to protect the suspects.
“Ask them why Dogar and his accomplices opened fire on the homes of Christians and injured innocent people like us if they had just a personal dispute with an individual?” he said. “The police have been protecting the accused since day one because they are Muslims, and we are poor Christians.”
Attorney Javed Gill, a senior leader of the Christian Lawyers Association of Pakistan, said there were conflicting reports about the motives for the shooting.
“Several residents have claimed that the accused were opposed to the presence of a church in the locality and had been pressuring them to stop worship there, while some are saying that the incident was an outcome of a dispute over a girl,” Gill told Morning Star News. “Nonetheless, even if it was a dispute between two people, how can anyone justify the targeting of the entire Christian neighborhood with automatic weapons?”
Several hundred bullets were fired from various illegal weapons resulting in injuries, yet police failed to include Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act in the FIR, which would have made the attack a non-bailable offense, he said. Gill said police were also unable to explain why they did not intervene timely while gunmen were shooting innocent people and damaging property.
“Thank God no one lost their life in the gruesome attack, but the manner in which the accused acted shows that they would not have desisted from murdering any person who came in their way,” he said.
Muhammad Azeem, station house officer of the Sherakot police station, declined to comment on whether officers were protecting the suspects and could not explain why they were delayed in reaching the site.
“We have arrested three men while raids are being conducted to arrest the other accused,” he said, sidestepping the question about the delay.
He also had no comment on why anti-terrorism sections were not included in the FIR when high-powered weapons resulted in injuries and kept panic-stricken people locked in their homes.
Asked why police failed to include in the FIR the anti-Christian comments the suspects made as stated by the complainants, Azeem said only that the case was registered on Tuesday (Sept. 7), “because we wanted to get to the bottom of the issue.” He said preliminary investigation showed the shooting was rooted in a personal dispute, but “further investigation will reveal the facts.”
“They [Christians] are our brothers, and we will protect them from any element who wants to disrupt peace in the area,” he said. “The incident has been noticed by the government, and all efforts are being made to bring the culprits to justice. It is not a religious issue as is being projected by the Christians.”
The U.S. State Department in December re-designated Pakistan among nine other “Countries of Particular Concern” for severe violations of religious freedom. Previously Pakistan had been added to the list on Nov. 28, 2018.
Pakistan ranked fifth on the Open Doors 2021 World Watch list of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.
Photo: Asif Masih was shot when Muslim gunmen attacked Lahore, Pakistan’s Sherakot area on Sept. 6, 2021. (Morning Star News)
(Morning Star News) – A gunman at the door of a Christian family’s home in eastern India on Thursday (April 16) shot the daughter of a pastor who was killed in the same house five years ago, family members said.
Neelam Purty, 25, sustained bullet wounds in her thumb and thigh in the shooting she survived in Sandih village, near Binda village in Murhu Block, Jharkhand state, they said.
“Is this the house of the pastor who was killed?” one of two men asked family members at the door at about 8 p.m., according to Purty’s sister, Sharon Purty.
She said the men were trying to speak in the local Mundari dialect, but that it was clearly not their native language. They resorted to speaking Hindi, she said.
“That pastor was killed, but you did not learn a lesson,” the men said as they shouted at family members at the door, according to Sharon Purty, who said they added. “You have continued assembling in large numbers for Christian prayers. Where is the woman working as spy?”
The sisters’ mother told them that they were not spies and asked them to leave, Sharon Purty said.
“‘Call the woman out, or we will kill you,’ they threatened us,” she said.
One of the men, masked in black cloth, handed a pistol to the one standing behind him and told him to load it, Sharon Purty said. At that point she, her mother and younger brother were near the door.
“My sister, Neelam Purty, who was making the bed until then, also came to the front room wondering what we were still doing there,” she said. “The masked gunman pointed at her and screamed, ‘She is the one – she is the spy!’”
Their mother told him he was mistaken, that her daughter was a schoolteacher in Jamshedpur city. The family had moved out of the home in the village after pastor Chamu Hassa Purty was shot dead there in 2015, but on April 15 members returned from different schools and colleges that were shut down as the government announced that a lockdown due to the new coronavirus was extended to May 3.
Sharon Purty said her mother was pleading with the gunmen to leave when the masked one told the other to shoot.
“He fired at her – she was standing there with her hands straight, and the bullet pierced into her right thigh through her thumb,” Sharon Purty told Morning Star News. “Our father was shot to death in that same room. We cried for help, and both the gunmen got on a motorbike and sped away from there.”
Family members tied Neelam Purty’s thigh and hand with cloth to slow blood flow and, without any means of transport, obtained help from a church member to take her to Murhu police station on a motorbike, Sharon Purty said. Her wounded sister’s thigh bone fractured as they put her on the vehicle, she said.
A pastor with a car picked up Neelam Purty from Murhu police station and took her to Khunti Government Hospital, where doctors provided First Aid and referred her to the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) in Ranchi, she said.
RIMS doctors initially said she would undergo an operation on Sunday (April 19) but postponed it, leaving Neelam Purty’s mother, two younger sisters and a younger brother worried that the bullet was still in her, Sharon Purty said. Neelam Purty underwent an operation today (April 21).
Before Thursday night’s shooting, her younger brother had initially answered the door when one of the gunmen knocked and mimicked the voice of a grand-uncle, she said.
Seeing two strangers, one masked, the shocked brother ran to family members in the bedroom, Sharon Purty said. Her mother went to the door and asked the men what they wanted.
“My younger brother and I also went into our front room to check who the persons were and why had they come to our house,” Sharon Purty told Morning Star News, adding that when the men asked if this was the house of the pastor who was killed, the siblings figured they were from the same group that killed him.
“But we were too young back then and do not remember their faces now,” she said. “The two men were not very tall. They stood one behind the other. The one standing in the front, facing us directly, was wearing a worn-out jacket. His hair was long and dirty. He covered his face with a black cloth and looked like a criminal. But the one standing behind him had neatly tucked his shirt and looked like an educated, well-groomed person.”
Inspector Pappu Kumar Sharma of Murhu police station told Morning Star News that a case has been registered and that an investigation is underway.
“We will tell you when we catch the culprits,” he said adding, “Neelam Purty is responding well to the medical treatment offered at RIMS hospital. As it was a Sunday, the operation had to be postponed. She is under the observation of good doctors. They will conduct the operation soon.”
A representative for legal advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom India said he urged District Superintendent of Police Ashutosh Shekhar to conduct a speedy and fair investigation. Shekhar said police had raided a few places and would arrest the culprits soon, the ADF India representative said.
Shekhar told Morning Star News that police have three or four suspects based on leads they have received.
“There is no Naxal movement in this part [Binda village] of the state,” he said. “And there is no direct link of this incident with their father’s killing as of now, but we cannot rule out that possibility also.”
He noted that Neelam Purty has lived in Jamshedpur “for quite some time, and the incident occurred the very next day after she came to her village. We are questioning local gangs operating in that area, and also the family’s disputes with their extended family in the village, the call records of their family members and the call records of people residing in that area.”
An area pastor said the family needs to move to a safe, rented house in a secure area, which will be difficult to find amid the coronavirus lockdown.
Sharon Purty said police must arrest the assailants soon, “as they have seen our faces and recognize us – we feel very unsafe.”
Before her father was killed on Oct. 12, 2015, he had prayed for a sick boy in a nearby village and helped his parents admit him into a hospital, Sharon Purty said.
After coming home that night and going to bed by 10 p.m., there was a knock on the door at about 11 p.m., she said. Her mother got up and saw through a narrow window in the front room eight men who told her that a boy was sick and asked if Pastor Purty could pray for him.
“My dad woke up and asked for the boy’s address,” Sharon Purty said. “They gave the same address where my father just returned from after admitting him at the hospital. We had figured that they were following my father’s movements.”
When the men asked her mother to open the door and give them a drink of water, she told them to get water from the well and leave, Sharon Purty said.
“My father and mother came to the room where we were sleeping and told us that we should flee from the rear door,” she said. “As we were about to move, two of them held us and brought us back to the front room. They fired at my father many times and at walls also.
“After my father’s killing, we had moved out of our native village and rarely went there. It was because of the coronavirus lockdown that we had gone there to stay. In 2016, another pastor, Pastor John, who was a close aide to my father and had continued the ministry in the village after him, also was killed.”
India is ranked 10th on Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. The country was 31st in 2013, but its position has worsened since Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in 2014.
Burkina Faso: Security forces report 24 people, including a pastor, were killed by gunmen during an attack on a church on Sunday in the northwestern part of the country. 18 were injured in the attack and some were kidnapped by the gunmen who forced them to haul looted goods. Extreme violence against Christians in Burkina Faso has rapidly risen in the past year, including church attacks, abductions and assassinations of pastors and priests.
The Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project claims over 1,300 people were killed in targeted attacks last year which is more than seven times the previous year. Insecurity has created a humanitarian crisis with more than 760,000 people who have fled their homes and now internally displaced. Source
Nigeria: Suspected Boko Haram insurgents have carried out fresh attacks against Christians in 3 villages. Suspected Islamists sprayed gunfire at worshipers and torched churches on Sunday. Though the death toll differs, some are claiming the gunmen killed no less the 51 people, mostly Christians in Chibok and Biu local government areas of Borno State, Nigeria. This is also in the same area where the 276 female students of Government Girls Secondary School had been abducted.
Two weeks ago, the Boko Haram had sent written messages warning of further attacks against the communities.
In Kwada village, about 10 kilometres from Chibok, churches were burnt down when the gunmen ambush on them during church service.
One of the residents told Vanguard, “the attackers killed and burnt houses after attacking worshippers in five churches in Kwada, before moving to Kautikari less than 8 kilometres to Chibok town, killing and burning down people’s houses and property. The security operatives were not on ground to defend us. In fact, those who ran into the bush were pursued and killed by the murderers.”
It is also being reported that the people living in Chibok town have fled their homes. And that others who hailed from the area could not hold back their tears upon hearing the news.
One witness recalled the terrorists came in pick up vehicles and motorcycles and opened fire on the people before setting houses, and other property ablaze. He said after killing one person, the terrorists carted away food and motorcycles before fleeing into the bush.
“The military and other security agencies should do more by not only deploying more personnel, but cooperating fully with members of the Local Vigilante Group in fighting terrorism and insurgency in this part of the state. They know the terrains of Sambisa Forest and can track insurgents in their hideouts. (vigilante groups are encouraged to help ward off the insurgents)
“The two should work as a team to end this Boko Haram insurgency that will clock five years by July 29, 2014”, said Sen. Mohammed Ali Ndume, representing Borno South Senatorial District
“The human mind cannot understand what is happening. There is no reason for what they are doing, but they continue to do it”, said Mgr. Doeme to Fr. Patrick. Fr. Patrick adds he managed to escape the attack of June 25, which hit a shopping center in Abuja, causing dozens of deaths: “I remember that on that day at that time I had an appointment in the mall’s square, where I usually park my car and where the bomb exploded. I thank God that the appointment was cancelled. Providence saved me”, the priest told Fides.
The Most Rev. Peter Jasper Akinola, a former primate of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, is reported to have been kidnapped by some gunmen at around 3 p.m. (local time) Tuesday.
Akinola, who is also a former president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), was reported to have been kidnapped alongside his driver in front of his office in the town of Abeokuta in the southwest Nigerian state of Ogun.
Akinola heads a foundation he established to minister to the unemployed youths and was in the offices of the foundation when he was kidnapped at gunpoint.
Yusuph Olaniyonu, a government official in Ogun, broke the news of the kidnap of the Anglican leader in a press statement he issued Tuesday on behalf of the government of Ogun State.
Olaniyonu, who is the commissioner of Information of Ogun State, disclosed that the Anglican leader has been rescued unhurt. According to Olaniyun, the Christian leader was rescued by government officials of Ogun state led by Gov. Ibikunle Amosun and security agents.
The government spokesman said: “Dr. Akinola and his driver were kidnapped in front of the main entrance of the Peter Akinola Foundation’s Centre for Youth Industrial Training, located along the Abeokuta-Lagos expressway on Tuesday about 3 p.m.,” (9 a.m. EST).
Akinola is an outspoken leader of the Anglican Communion not only in Africa, but also seen as a voice for the Anglican communion in the Southern Hemisphere.
He led a strong protest against same-sex marriage in the Anglican Communion and successfully established some diocese for some Episcopal members in North America who subscribed to the position that same-sex marriage was unbiblical.
On May 13, 2011, in the city of Jos in central Nigeria, Akinola said in a speech at the Theological College of Northern Nigeria (TCNN), that humanity is today living, “helplessly in an age of lawlessness and overt permissiveness, including theological and religious permissiveness,” all because theologians are no longer concerned with doing theology and teaching it in order to, “help Christians understand the Triune God from the perspective of Jesus the Christ; build up faith in Christ for the purpose of eternal salvation; equip Christians in order to facilitate their spiritual growth; and, present the church at the Parousia, blameless.”
He added: “Theologians and ordained ministers of the church in the west encourage and in fact promote relativism, they doubt established truths about God and in doubting eternal truths, they lose all reason to pursue revealed biblical truth.”
As a consequence, Akinola says, the minds of these theologians and ordained ministers, “have stopped working the way of God,” thereby, leading them into “vile and ungodly thinking.”
Akinola laments that: “The ultra liberal theologians in our time deny the validity of the sections of scripture which do not agree with their lopsided thinking. For example, they’ll readily claim that scriptural rejection of human sexual aberrations is incompatible with modern and ‘continuing revelation’. In other words, modern cultural trappings are to be upheld and valued over and against the biblical provisions.”
The Anlgican in stressing his position cites as an example of how some western theologians misuse the scriptures, the Anglican leader says, “In point of fact an American bishop in the Episcopal Church, Charles Benison, who in my opinion has no business being a bishop in the church of God in the first place; he is better off as a humanist and human rights campaigner, once asserted “we wrote the bible, and we can rewrite it.”
Akinola says this method of doing theology has adversely affected the church in the west and is gradually drifting into the church in Africa and in other developing nations.
“My worry is that this situation does not start and stop in the west. It filters in to our setting. It’s everywhere,” he says.
The cleric says this development is not new as even in the era of the Apostles such misguided theological minds were in existence.
“In the church at Ephesus Paul found that there were teachers of all sorts whose teaching ministry could only mislead the faithful, cause divisions and even destroy the faith,” he says.
From the Nigerian experience, the Anglican leader says the relativism theological virus has become so endemic that most church leaders have gone astray.
“Like in our country today, there are people who major in speculative and eccentric theology rather than Christocentric theology. They manifest clear signs of immaturity which we may describe using Paul’s ideas as gullible and vulnerable infants tossed about helplessly by the turbulent waves and cunning of deceitful schemes,” Akinola says.
In view of the prevailing challenges of “severe disasters and afflictions of unimaginable proportions like earthquakes, tsunamis, devastating floods, resurgent Islam sponsored terrorist attacks, wars and famines,” confronting humanity, theologians and ordained ministers who ought to have served as catalysts to providing sound and empirical biblical solutions to these challenges have themselves compounded the problem by their inadequacies, Akinola said.
“The point must be made that in our time, there is a yawning gap (ever widening, ever deepening) between theological formation and service delivery by those supposedly trained in theology. Consequently, postulants and other students of theology who are ordained to serve the church of Christ almost always find themselves unable to meet critical personal life situations such as bereavements, troubled marriage, disobedient and outright rebellious children, teenage pregnancy, abortion and economic calamity,” Akinola also said.
He also stresses that, “Even in the more general areas of political upheavals, religious and communal clashes, bad governance, unbridled corruption in high and low places our men with all their theological education are often at sea not knowing what to do.”
By these acts, Akinola says, theologians have, “thus inadvertently create a religious and spiritual vacuum which commercial prophets and fake pastors quick seize and manipulate the people for selfish financial gains.”
Akinola concludes his treatise by asking the question, “Where then is God and all our theological enterprise in all of this? I think there is a huge challenge before us.”
As a way forward, the Anglican leader says, there is the urgent need for church leaders, “to pay particular attention to current theological aberrations, revisionist agenda, promotion and equation of shadow and social gospel with authentic gospel of salvation.”
by Obed Minchakpu Charisma News
Three people, including a girl aged eight, died when gunmen on motorcycles opened fire on a wedding party outside a Coptic Christian church in Cairo on Sunday.
At least nine others were wounded in the attack in the Giza neighborhood of the city, officials said, according to the BBC.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility. The unidentified attackers fired indiscriminately as people left the church. A man and a girl were killed outside the church and a woman died on her way to hospital.
Coptic priest Thomas Daoud Ibrahim told Reuters he was inside the church when the gunfire erupted.
Another priest, Beshay Lotfi, told Egyptian media that the church had been left without a police guard since the end of June.
Egypt’s Coptic Christian community makes up around 10% of the country’s 90 million-strong population.
Copts are indigenous to Egypt, their presence predating the Arab conquests of northern Africa. Egyptian Copts have long complained of widespread discrimination, persecution and violence by both the Egyptian state and Islamist non-state actors.
Anti-Christian violence has seriously escalated in the aftermath of the removal of Islamist Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi, whose supporters have been accused of scapegoating the Coptic community, after its leader, Pope Tawadros II, came out in support of the move by the army to oust Morsi.
They have generally coexisted peacefully with Sunni Muslims for centuries. The army’s overthrow of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi has been followed by some of the worst attacks against Christians in years. Please keep them in your prayers!