5 More Pakistani Christians Killed

Church Insists on Investigation, Prosecution

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HYDERABAD, Pakistan, SEPT. 3, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Five Christians were shot and killed in the northwestern Pakistani city of Quetta last week, bringing to more than a dozen the number of Christians slain in the country in recent weeks.



Vatican Radio reported Wednesday on the Aug. 28 killings, citing local sources.

At the end of July and beginning of August, as many as 11 Christians were killed in another attack, which also involved the burning of some 100 Christian homes. A Christian family died trapped inside one of the homes, as a mob outside promised to kill anyone who tried to escape the flames.

It is thought that the perpetrators of the two slayings are of the same group, extremists of "Taliban influence," Vatican Radio informed.

"Blasphemers"

Pakistani bishops have expressed their dismay at the lack of investigation into the earlier slaying.

Archbishop Lawrence Saldanha of Lahore, president of the Pakistani episcopal conference, lamented to UCANews that "a month has passed since the massacre and yet none of the accused has been punished."

"I am afraid," he added, "the culprits will go scot-free and the case will be put in cold storage."

Meanwhile, the World Council of Churches this week called on Pakistan to repeal its anti-blasphemy law, and urged the nation to "guarantee the rights of all religious minorities in the country."

The world council said the law keeps minorities living in a "state of fear and terror" since it is often invoked as a way to punish minorities in business disputes.

The law calls for life imprisonment or death for anyone insulting the Quran or Mohammed.

According to information from the Pakistani bishops' National Commission of Justice and Peace, since the law went into effect in 1986, nearly 1,000 people have been prosecuted, though the majority of them are Muslim. Some 120 Christians have been prosecuted under the law.

Christians in Pakistan make up about 1.6% of the population.

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On ZENIT's Web site:

Father John Flynn's analysis of the previous attacks: www.zenit.org/article-26659?l=english