15 slain in Pakistani church

Published December 1, 2001

Bahawalpur, Pakistan

An emotional funeral was held in St. Dominic’s church here on Oct. 29 for 15 members of the Anglican Church of Pakistan massacred inside the same church during Sunday services.

Unidentified gunmen sprayed bullets on the Protestant congregation just before 9 a.m on Oct. 28, as participants were singing the closing hymn of the Sunday service at this Roman Catholic church used by the local Church of Pakistan congregation for its services.

Among the dead was the church’s pastor, Emmanuel Allah Ditta, who was leading the 100-member congregation when the gunmen stormed the church after killing a policeman on guard at the church gates. The government had posted police security at the request of the Christian community, who felt they needed protection after the start of the U.S.-led military action against Afghanistan.

“Fifteen of our people have been killed. Five are critical in hospital and 10 others have been discharged after treatment for minor injuries,” said church of Pakistan bishop John Victor Mall of the Multan diocese.

Dominican nun Anna Bakshi, a witness to events, said: “Not a single wall of the church is without bullet marks. Those who ran to the sacristy and hid themselves escaped unhurt.”

Roman Catholic bishop Andrew Francis of Multan said: “The altar is riddled with bullet marks. They [the gunmen] have rained bullets on our people and there is blood all over the church.”

Churches in Pakistan had been demanding that the government provide security to churches and Christian institutions, fearing that angry crowds would vent their ire on the minority Christian community if the United States and its allies attacked Afghanistan in the name of countering terrorism.


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