Pakistani Christians Plan 3-Day Shutdown to Protest Killings

Following Massacre in a Catholic Aid Organization in Karachi

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LAHORE, Pakistan, SEPT. 26, 2002 ( Catholics and Protestants in Pakistan have decided to call a three-day closure of their institutions to protest the killing of seven employees of the Justice and Peace Commission in Karachi.

On Wednesday, sources with the nongovernmental organization — known locally as Idara Aman-O-Insaaf — initially reported eight dead. But one of the employees, although wounded, survived the massacre.

Pakistani Christians, who constitute about 2% of the population, have decided to close their churches, schools and stores in protest.

«Everything that is Christian is closed, and we are organizing manifestations in all the cities to protest against these brutal deaths of Christians,» Shahbaz Bhatti, president of the Alliance of Minorities of Pakistan, told ZENIT.

Two unidentified attackers entered the offices of the Catholic aid organization on Wednesday morning, and killed the employees one by one. The Justice and Peace Commission has been active in Karachi for the past 30 years.

A witness was wounded by the attackers before they fled and subsequently suffered a heart attack. The police say they have no information on the attackers’ identity.

Bhatti announced a meeting of representatives of non-Muslim minorities in Islamabad next Monday to discuss problems relating to individuals, communities, property and security.

Some 38 Christians have been killed since Pakistan ceased to support the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Hundreds of al-Qaida fugitives and Taliban fled from Afghanistan to Pakistan after the fall of the fundamentalist militias last year. Many Muslim militants identify Christianity with the West.

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