A SECURITY guard has been killed as he foiled an intended terrorist attack by militants on a Christian neighbourhood in Peshawar, Pakistan.
The four terrorists, believed to be wearing suicide vests, entered the neighbourhood and were held off by a church security guard, Samuel Masih, while he alerted security forces. Mr Masih was later shot dead in a gun-battle with the terrorists. The four terrorists also died, two of them blowing themselves up.
In a statement, the Church of Pakistan’s diocese of Peshawar described Mr Masih as “a brave man — indeed, a hero and a martyr who saved many lives”.
The same day, a suicide bomb killed 11 people at the entrance to a court in the city of Mardan, 50 km from Peshawar. Both attacks have been claimed by the militant group Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, which split away from the Pakistani Taliban and briefly pledged allegiance to Islamic State. It also claimed responsibility this year for the bombing of a park in Lahore, on Easter Day, that killed 72 people, including many Christians (News, 1 April) .
The Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Revd Tony Robinson, who chairs the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Pakistan Focus Group, said: “The Christians in the city of Peshawar have been subject to another attack. This time, through the bravery and quick action of Samuel Masih, the security guard, a major catastrophe has been averted.
“We cannot begin to imagine what it is like for Christians to live with daily threats on their lives and the freedom to practise their faith. They are very committed in their faith and discipleship. We continue to pray for them and support them by whatever pressure we can bring to bear on the Pakistan government.”