By Jawad Mazhar, BosNewsLife Special Correspondent reporting from Pakistan
KARACHI, PAKISTAN (BosNewsLife) -- A tense calm returned Tuesday, July 15, to the outskirts of Pakistan's largest city, Karachi, after several Christians, including a pastor, were injured when Muslim militants stormed a Protestant church during a prayer service, officials told BosNewsLife.
Witnesses said an angry Muslim mob raided the United Presbyterian Church in the suburb of Noorknan last week, July 10, carrying "swords, daggers and batons" and slogans that included "Infidels!" and "Stop false rituals."
Up to "18 Muslims of the radical Gul Hassan Berohi group entered in to the Church and attacked and desecrated the church" and destroyed a Bible and other Christian books placed on the altar, said advocacy group Compassion Asia in a statement obtained by BosNewsLife. The Gul Hassan Berohi group had no comment.
They allegedly said that the worshippers were "infidels" who "can not stay" in Pakistan as this "is the country of Muslims." The believers were reportedly told to “recant Christianity and become Muslims or be ready to die."
Compassion Asia said the mob also attacked believers, seriously injuring Pastor Iqbal Anthony "with daggers and swords." The pastor and several other wounded Christians, including women and girls, were rushed to hospital with unspecified injuries, local believers said.
This was the second major attack on the church since 2001, Muslim residents backed by local leaders militants destroyed the building. The government of Sindh Province later gave permission to Pastor Anthony to rebuild the church at the same location with support of the congregation.
Following last week's attack, Christians have appealed to the provincial government to take action against Muslim attackers and to beef up security around the church and Christian residential areas. It was not immediately clear Tuesday, July 15, what if any meassures had been taken by local authorities. The church attack came amid growing concern over Islamic extremism in Pakistan.
(Jawad Mazhar is a Christian journalist covering and investigating persecution from the most difficulties areas of Pakistan. As everyone at BosNewsLife, he currently raises his own financial support to make his ministry possible. Will you help him? Please prayerful consider any donation to: 'Rays of Development Organization'
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