By BosNewsLife Asia Service
LAHORE, PAKISTAN (BosNewsLife)– An elderly Swedish missionary was believed to fight for her life Saturday, December 8, after she was shot in eastern Pakistan by suspected Islamic militants.
Officials from her Full Gospel Assembly charity said Bargeeta Almby was still unconscious after surgery on December 3 for gunshot wounds to the chest.
The 72-year-old was reportedly attacked by unknown assailants on December 3 as she drove back to her home in the capital of Pakistan’s Punjab province, Lahore, police said. “Two men on a motorbike approached her vehicle and repeatedly shot her in the chest,” added regional Superintendent Malik Liaquat in published remarks.
The two unidentified gunmen did not take any cash or valuables, according to investigators.
Police said no one has claimed responsibility for the attack, but Christians suggested she was threatened before the shooting incident.
The Gospel Assemblies said that two unknown men had recently visited Almby’s residence where they inquired about her whereabouts from a security guard.
The president of the Pakistan Christian Congress party, Nazir Bhatti, condemned the attack and demanded “the arrest of the Islamists” involved.
Bhatti said Pakistan’s Punjab province is “a hotbed of Islamist extremism and a hub of banned terrorist organizations” backed by at least some leaders of the Punjab government.
There was no immediate known comment from government leaders.
Almby, who is treated in Lahore’s Jinnah Hospital, has lived in Pakistan for 38 years and the Christian charity she runs has an orphanage and adult-literacy projects in Lahore.
She is the second Western aid worker targeted in Lahore in recent years. Warren Weinstein, a 71-year-old American, was kidnapped in the city in August 2011 and is still missing.
It comes amid mounting concerns about attacks against churches and devoted Christians in heavily Islamic Pakistan.
The attack against Bargeeta Almby, whose name has also been spelled as Bergetta Emmi, came just over a decade after six Pakistanis were killed and at least three people wounded when masked gunmen burst into the compound of a school for children of foreign missionaries near the town of Murree.
Two security guards, a cook, a carpenter and a receptionist were among those shot dead in the morning attack at Murree Christian School in August 2002.
Christians comprise below 5 percent of the country’s 190-million population, according to the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). (BosNewsLife’s International Correspondent Joseph DeCaro and Stefan J. Bos contributed to this story).