Christians throughout Pakistan mourn seven killed in Karachi

Friday, September 27, 2002

The Associated Press

KARACHI, Pakistan -- Black flags flew over churches and Christian schools were closed in this violent port city Thursday as mourners buried seven Christian workers slain by gunmen who tied the victims up and shot them at point blank range.

"We are very sad. Everyone is in mourning," said the Rev. Baz Philip of the multi-denominational Christian Church in Karachi.

No arrests have been made in Wednesday's massacre at the third floor office of the Institute for Peace and Justice, a Pakistani Christian charity.

Witnesses said two men carried out the attack. Karachi Police Chief Kamal Shah said the assailants tied the victims to chairs, bound their hands behind their back and shot them in the head.

Some 500 Christians blocked several main roads in Karachi demanding the government take swift action to find those responsible for the killings, the latest in a string of attacks on Christians in this overwhelmingly Muslim country.

"We give the government 48 hours to arrest the killers," said Karamat Chochan, a local Christian leader. "If the killers are not arrested, the entire Christian community will take to the streets."

Some demonstrators chanted: "Arrest the killers. Hang the killers. Protect Christians."

The protest followed a night of small, peaceful demonstrations held at dozens of shantytowns where poor Christians live in Karachi.

The All Pakistan Minorities Alliance, which represents the nation's Christians, on Thursday called for a three-day period of mourning over the deaths. Christian schools and colleges in Karachi and other cities will remain closed in remembrance of the victims.

The slaughter of the seven Christians follows weeks of arrests, many in southern Karachi, of militant Muslims belonging to Harakat-ul Mujahedeen-Al Almi, blamed by the government for a series of violent attacks. They include the June bombing outside the U.S. Consulate that killed 12 Pakistanis, a May suicide bombing that killed 11 French engineers and several failed assassination attempts against President Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

So far police have arrested 23 members of this outlawed organization, which came to prominence after Musharraf joined the U.S.-led coalition's war next door in Afghanistan. Another 39 wanted members of the group are still at large, Interior Minister Moinuddin Haider has told The Associated Press.

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