LAHORE, Pakistan, DEC. 4, 2012 (Zenit.org).- A lay Protestant Christian missionary was the victim of an attempted murder and is in critical condition in Jinnah Hospital in Lahore, capital of the province of Punjab.
Bargeeta Almby, a 72 year old missionary from Sweden, was in her car when two armed men on a motorcycle approached and shot her repeatedly hitting her in the chest. The attack took place on Monday in Lahore. According to Fides Agency, Almby has been working in Pakistan for over 38 years and was fully integrated in the community.
The Protestant missionary is responsible for the social programs of a Christian Church, the “Full Gospel Assemblies of Pakistan” (FGA Church). The Church is registered as a non-governmental organization. It is run primarily by women and is involved in education and formation services. Almby is also responsible for an orphanage, as well as working with disabled and poor children.
The police investigating the attack are trying to determine the identity of the gunmen and the reason for the attempted murder. Pastor Liaquat Kaiser, head of the FGA Church, stated that “it is a premeditated attack,” recalling that Almby “had received threats” in the past.
Paul Bhatti, Special Adviser to the Prime Minister for National Harmony and who is a practicing Catholic expressed his sadness over the violent attack. “I am deeply saddened. It is a terrorist act, anti-human and anti-Pakistani,” he told Fides.
“In recent days, the imam of a mosque in Karachi was killed and a graveyard of Ahmadis in Lahore was desecrated; now the attempted murder of this missionary. They are acts which intend to destabilize the country and fuel religious hatred. As Pakistanis we must remain united in condemning and combatting extremism.”
Fr. James Chnnan, a Dominican Father and Director of the “Peace Center” in Lahore committed to ecumenism and interreligious dialogue also commented on the attack.
“We are shocked by this event. Behind them are extremist and terrorist forces who want to create panic in all foreigners working in Pakistan and expel all NGOs working for social justice and education. Let us pray and entrust Bargeeta’s life to God.”