Christmas massacre in Pakistan

International | Assailants attack a Presbyterian church on Christmas day

Issue: "Lord of the box office," Jan. 11, 2003

Two masked assailants turned a Christmas Day children's program at a small Presbyterian church in Pakistan into a bloody massacre. They tossed into the chapel an explosive device that fatally wounded four children and injured 18 other youths and parents, some seriously.

The attack took place at a remote village about 40 miles north of Lahore and despite heightened security throughout the country. At least one local police officer was suspended, reportedly for failing to report for security duty at the church. Authorities arrested a local Islamist clergyman, accusing him of instigating the attack but acknowledging they had no evidence of his "direct involvement." He and his followers had attacked the chapel three months ago, throwing rocks and threatening the congregation.

Hundreds of Christians two days later held a peaceful protest demonstration and shouted slogans against terrorism. Authorities promised to step up security for all churches throughout the country.

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Edward E. Plowman
Edward E. Plowman


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