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Peshawar church ‘still in pain’

26 September 2014

PA

Remembered: Pakistani Christians attend a mass on the first anniversary of the bombing, on Sunday

Remembered: Pakistani Christians attend a mass on the first anniversary of the bombing, on Sunday

ONE year after a suicide-bomb attack on All Saints', Peshawar, in northern Pakistan, the situation for Christians in the town remains bleak.

As many as 100 worshippers were killed on 22 September last year, and at least 150 were injured (News, 27 September 2013). A militant group linked to the Pakistani Taliban later claimed responsibility for the slaughter.

Today, Christians still gather on Sundays at All Saints', but the pain and scars from last year's attack are not far from the surface.

On Monday, candles were lit in memory of the victims at a special service. A rally for peace was also held in the city, and Christians demanded that the authorities do more to protect them from Islamist terrorists.

The Archbishop of Canterbury said in a statement that, when he visited Pakistan in May, he had been appalled to see evidence of the "hatred, violence, and persecution" faced by Christians.

"We must continue to pray and call for justice, and for the peace of Pakistan and the protection of Christ's people there," he said.

The Revd Fayaz Adman, Team Vicar of West Bolton, lost more than 25 members of his extended family in the atrocity, and has visited the church several times in the past year.

He said on Monday that conditions for Christians remained difficult, even though the local authorities had installed some security personnel around the building. "The situation is the same [as last year]. They are still under threat, and there are security issues. But they had a normal service on Sunday."

Another challenge for the Christian community was caring for the injured, Mr Adman said. "Some people are still in trauma after 12 months. There are children who need skin grafts, and other issues."

Mr Adman said that a rehabilitation centre had been opened near All Saints' to offer free services to the injured, and that his wife had remained in Peshawar to ensure that the money raised from across the Anglican Communion was properly spent. "We are thankful for all our communities in Britain . . . who have supported us," he said.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) warned last week that some of the injured victims had been "forcibly removed" from hospitals because of delays in receiving government compensation.

CSW's chief executive, Mervyn Thomas, said that "justice must be served," and that the money from a promised £1.2-million fund for victims' families must be released immediately.

 

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