By BosNewsLife Asia Service
ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN (BosNewsLife)– Minority Christians in Pakistan feared more attacks Sunday, April 26, after militants of the Taliban group executed two residents in a Christian neighborhood while one child died during a crackdown on believers, local Christians and rights investigators confirmed.
U.S.-based International Christian Concern (ICC), which investigates cases of persecution, told BosNewsLife that the incidents happened Tuesday, April 21, in Taseer Town near the city of Karachi, where Christians protested against pro-Taliban messages “chalked onto the walls of two churches.”
The messages included, “Long Live the Taliban,” “Talibanization is our goal,” and “Embrace Islam or Prepare to Die,” Christians said. “Christian residents staged a protest in hopes of attracting the attention of the local government to provide protection. Officials, however, did nothing.”
Instead, on the night of the protest Tuesday, April 21, “more than 100 masked terrorists invaded Taseer Town” with automatic rifles, ICC said. Christians reportedly ran away, but Taliban militants allegedly went door to door, breaking into Christian homes and dragging the elderly and women out into the street by their hair.
“The terrorists sexually assaulted several women and physically abused dozens more with clubs, iron rods, and whips. They set a number of homes on fire. When two Christians resisted, the militants killed them execution-style directly in front of their families,” ICC added, citing local sources.
In addittion, “The elderly were injured and one child fell to the ground and died in my friend’s arms,” said Christian politician Asif Stephen in comments released by ICC. “Militants carrying the latest weapons rushed in, entered homes and pillaged money and jewelry and abused the women and burned their properties.”
The latest reported incident comes amid international concerns over the growing influence of the Taliban, which has imposed Islamic law in Pakistan’s volatile Swat valley and is advancing towards the capital Islamabad.
Police have reporgedly detained seven of the Taliban militants involved in the anti-Christian attacks, however ICC Advoacy Director Jeremy Sewall warned that “The Pakistani government created an opening for terrorists to attack Christians indiscriminately by acceding to their demands in the Swat Valley.”
Sewall said that altough Pakistani Christians in major cities of the country already experienced discrimination, they had till now not to fear threats of forced conversion or executions on a wide scale.
“This attack is a harbinger of worse to come if the Pakistani government continues to cower in the face of Muslim radicals.” The United States has also expressed concerns over the growing influence of the Taliban in Pakistan.