BREAKING NEWS: Gun Battles Rock Pakistan City After Militants Kill Christians (Exclusive)

Monday, July 19, 2010

By Xavier P. William, BosNewsLife/Worthy News Special Correspondent reporting from Pakistan

FAISALABAD/ISLAMABAD (Worthy News)-- Gun battles broke out in a predominantly Christian neighborhood of the Pakistani city of Faisalabad Monday, July 19, shortly after two Christian evangelists were shot and killed by suspected Islamic militants, witnesses told Worthy News and its news partner BosNewsLife.

Christian and Muslim gunmen exchanged gunfire for at least five hours in Daud Nagar area, said Rizwan Paul, the president of Life for All, a major Christian advocacy group that is trying to calm the situation. "The situation is very tense," he added speaking by telephone to a BosNewsLife and Worthy News reporter.

There were no immediate reports of casualties. Police said they detained at least eight people for damaging properties and burning tires, but it was not immediately clear any of those involved in the armed clashes were detained.

As night fell gun fire could still be heard late Monday, July 19.


Police imposed a curfew in the troubled area, with maximum five people allowed to gather, said Khalid Gill, a Christian legislator in the Punjab Assembly.

The fighting came after five masked men, believed to be Muslim militants, shot and killed two Christian men who were due to appear in court on charges of blasphemy against Islam, Gill told Worthy News.

Gill, who witnessed the incident, said Brothers Sajid Masih Emmanuel, 30, and Rashid Emmanuel, 32, were assassinated by five masked gun men Monday, July 19, ouside a district court building in Faisalabad, before they could enter a trial room. The attackers escaped, he added.

"Sajjid Masih died on the spot and Rashid died while being taken to the ambulance," Gill said.

The two young men, who witnesses said showed signs of police torture, were earlier dragged to the court building to face charges of blasphemy against Islam while carrying out activities for their mission group group "United Ministries Pakistan". Their work  included evangelism among Muslims.


Police detained the men last month after complaints from local residents, including a market salesman, Muhammad Khuram Shezad.

Police detained the men last month after complaints from local residents, including a market salesman, Muhammad Khuram Shezad.

He and other Muslims accused them of writing a pamphlet with blasphemous remarks about the Prophet Muhammad. The charges were based on hand-written and photo-copied pamphlets with remarks about the prophet Muhammad that the Muslims consider offensive, trial observers said.

Following the arrests of the evangelists, anti-Christian protests broke out and residents said an angry crowd burned tires and shouted slogans against Christians on July 12. On July 16, some mosques provoked Muslims to protest at a rally and also to “burn the houses of Christians,” Christians said.

Muslim leaders could not be reached for comment.

Several Christians have been detained in Pakistan on charges of blasphemy, but critics claim the legislation has been misused to settle personal disputes, for instance over land or money.


Under Pakistan's blasphemy legislation a man can potentially face execution if his insult to Islam amounts to apostasy, or turning away from Islam, while a woman generally faces life imprisonment.

Rights group have urged the Pakistani government to annul the blasphemy legislation.

Christians comprise less than five percent of Pakistan's mainly Muslim population of over 177 million people, according to estimates by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). (With editing by Worthy News' Stefan J. Bos).