By BosNewsLife News Center with BosNewsLife Special Correspondent Jawad Mazhar reporting from Pakistan
ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN (BosNewsLife) -- The commander for Pakistan of The Salvation Army, a major Christian mission organization, has been shot and killed, a Protestant news agency reported Sunday, September 30, the latest in a series of attacks against Christians in the country.
Norwegian born Colonel Bo Brekke, 50, was killed Thursday, September 27, shortly after he chaired a meeting at The Salvation Army headquarters in Lahore, the capital of Punjab province and Pakistan's second largest city, reported the Swiss-based Adventist Press Service (APD).
Police reportedly detained a man on charges of involvement in the murder. His motive was not immediately clear, although investigators suggested the suspect had no links to a terror network. The colonel's wife, Colonel Birgitte Brekke, was in London at the time, attending meetings at The Salvation Army's international headquarters, APD said. She flew to Norway to meet with her two sons.
Bo and Birgitte Brekke began working for The Salvation Army in Pakistan in September last year, serving in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Colonel Brekke's funeral was to be held later this week in Oslo, Norway by The Salvation Army General Shaw Clifton, APD reported.
"Colonel Bo Brekke was a Salvation Army leader of unusual and distinctive talents. Both he and his wife, Colonel Birgitte Brekke, were known for their hearts of compassion towards the marginalized," Clifton said in published remarks.
The Salvation Army was active in Pakistan as part of its worldwide mission to spread the Christian faith and support education, the relief of poverty, and what it calls "other charitable objects beneficial to society or the community of mankind as a whole." The Salvation Army Salvation Army works in 111 countries, involving more than 1.5 million 'Salvationists' and 100,000 employees.
News of the latest incident comes amid growing concerns about attacks and threats against Christians in Pakistan, often by Muslim militants. Days before the latest murder, reports emerged that a Pakistani official in the northern district of Swat warned female teachers and students to don Islamic garb, citing threats from Taliban militants in the area.
Extremists in Swat have reportedly conducted a campaign of Islamization in the district against all things deemed un-Islamic since early July, when a government crackdown on militants at the Lal Masjid mosque in Islamabad triggered violent reactions nationwide.
The order to wear burgas may affect Christians at the Catholic-run Public High School in Sangota, commented Compass Direct News agency. The all-girls school had already closed down for a week this month after being threatened with suicide attacks for supposedly converting students to Christianity.
In a bid to tackle religious tensions in the country, Joseph Francis, the Pakistan Christian National Party leader and chairman of the Christian Legal Aid Assistance & Settlement (CLAAS) wants to participate in presidential elections. However Francic said the election commission has rejected his nomination, citing an article of Pakistan's constitution barring non-Muslim candidates from running in presidential polls.
Francis said he wants to go to the Supreme Court of Pakistan to challenge article 41 (2), which bars minorities from assuming the office of President of Pakistan. (Read more from Jawad Mazhar via the Rays of Development Organization. www.raysofdevelopment.org).
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