Pakistan Police Detain Five Suspects In Church Shooting

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Jawad Mazhar, Worthy News Special Correspondent reporting from Pakistan

Khalid Gill talking to BosNewsLife. Jawad Mazhar for BosNewsLife
Khalid Gill talking to Worthy News and its partner news agency BosNewsLife. Jawad Mazhar for Worthy News/BosNewsLife

SARGODHA, PAKISTAN (Worthy News) -- Pakistani police have detained five Muslim militants for their alleged involvement in a shooting spree at a Presbyterian Church, which killed at least one woman and injured several worshipers, a key investigator told Worthy News Saturday March 21.

The suspects allegedly opened fire March 2 during a lent prayer service of the church in the village Singowali, located in District Gujranwala in Pakistan’s Punjab province.

"Gujranwala Police arrested five Muslim church shooters identified [only] as Abdul Rauf, Muhammad Akram, Naeem, Zafar and Munawar. and put them behind the bars," said Khalid Gill, a representative of the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA), a major political and advocacy group.

However Gill told Worthy News that at least four other assailants responsible for the shooting at Singowali Presbyterian Church are still at large.

He criticized local police for allegedly not doing enough to find suspects and added that law enforcement agencies should also push charges against those responsible for vandalizing a cross at the church and breaking the church loud speakers.

Police officials were not immediately available for comment.

The March 2 shooting was the latest in a series of attacks against Christians and churches in Pakistan, a mainly Muslim nation, where advocacy groups have expressed concerns over growing Islamic extremism.

Pakistan's Minorities Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, a Christian, has reportedly pressured police to step up protection of Christians and clergy.

Gill said Bhatti, who also leads APMA, also wants police to "take prompt action" in the recent church shooting "and arrest the remaining four culprits." He said APMA would do its best "to ensure that justice is served to the victims of this ordeal."