As another fierce gun battle is reported close to Karachi airport Tuesday morning, Catholics in the city are praying to St. Anthony that the Lord bring peace and harmony to their nation.
“In moments of tension and violence, while a symbolic attack is taking place at the heart of the state, as Catholics we turn to St. Anthony, whose feast is approaching, June 13,” said Fr. Mario Rodrigues, pastoral youth director of the archdiocese of Karachi and pastor at St. Anthony Church in the city.
The priest is calling on Catholics to pray to “the saint of miracles”, asking for the “gift of peace and harmony for our beloved nation”.
On 8 June, at least 10 armed militants attacked Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport. 31 people were killed, including 10 attackers, and at least 18 persons were wounded. The attack was claimed by the Pakistani Taliban.
In an interview with Fides June 9, Fr. Mario said: “We are dismayed. The terrorist attack of Taliban origin, shows that these extremist groups also have a military force. They also want to have visibility and show that they are able to strike at the heart of the nation. There is an atmosphere of tension and suspense in the city. All the special forces have arrived. We hope the attack is foiled as soon as possible”.
In response to this sudden attack, explains Father Mario “as Catholics we will address special prayers to St. Anthony: in the next three days, in preparation for his feast on 13 June, we will live an intense prayer with the prolonged exposure of the Blessed Sacrament in the church of St. Anthony in Karachi.
“From six in the morning until six in the evening, young people, adults, children, families, come to worship and pray to the saint of miracles, to whom the Catholics of Karachi harbor a deep veneration,” he said.
Fr. Mario added: “We will dedicate three days to the constant invocation of peace for the nation, through the intercession of the Saint of Padua: help us to build peace, reconciliation and harmony in Pakistan”.
He said that during this difficult period, “we ask Pope Francis to pray for peace in Pakistan”.
Another fierce gun battle was reported June 10 close to Karachi airport. Local media say gunmen have attacked a training camp of the airport security forces. It is not clear if there are any casualties, the BBC reports.
Flights have once again been suspended at the airport, officials say. The attack appears to have been focused upon a hostel housing the airport security forces.
Karachi is Pakistan’s southern metropolis, in Sindh province, known to be the most violent city in the country, where killings and violence among ethnic groups, terrorist and jihadist formations, criminal gangs involved in international drug trafficking and weapons take place every day.