Pakistani Christians Bury Victims of Karachi Massacre

We’ll Continue to Preach the Message of Love, Says Catholic Bishop

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KARACHI, Pakistan, SEPT. 29, 2002 ( Thousands of visibly shaken Christians met in Karachi to bury three members of their community, killed in cold blood last week in the offices of an aid organization where they worked.

Today’s funeral took place under heavy police security. Government and local authorities exerted pressure to block simultaneous funeral services in Karachi’s cathedral for the seven victims of the attack.

«The Lord is our shepherd, stop killing Christians,» a poster read, placed in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Some 4,000 people gathered there to attend the first funeral service, that of John Menezes.

The crowd of people, wearing black armbands, swelled to 10,000 for Aslam Martin’s funeral Mass.

Martin was considered the coordinator of the Institute for Peace and Justice, a Catholic charitable organization, which has been in Karachi for 30 years. The group helps the poor regardless of their religion or race.

After Mass was celebrated in another parish, a third coffin was placed next to the first two in the cathedral. A convoy then proceeded to the Christian cemetery of this southern port city.

Two victims were buried Saturday, and a fourth victim was buried separately today. The funeral services of another Christian took place last Wednesday, the day of the killing.

That day, two gunmen shot the institute’s workers in the head, one by one. An eighth wounded worker is struggling for his life.

President Pervez Musharraf condemned the «terrorist fanaticism» on Friday, describing it as a «disgrace» for Pakistan. This country of 144 million is predominantly Muslim.

Prayers have been offered throughout the country for the victims. Prayers were also held in Multan, where 17 Christians were killed last October.

«Christians will continue to preach the message of love and tolerance,» said Bishop Andrew Francis of Multan.

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