09 24 Newsflashes from the Persecuted Church

Anguish, Anger Erupt over Pakistani Church Massacre World Watch Monitor http://www.worldwatchmonitor.org/2013/09/2721983/

Anguish and anger has erupted across Pakistan since Sunday after two suicide bombers killed dozens of people as they were leaving church services. The bomb attacks took place at 12:15 p.m. on Sept. 22 as about 600 people were leaving worship services at All Saints Anglican Church in Peshawar, the capital of the war-ravaged Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in northwestern Pakistan, along the Pakistan-Afghan border. At least 89 people, including children, were killed. One family lost six members. About 150 others were injured, about a dozen critically. The powerful explosions left bodies and blood strewn across the church grounds. As expressions of sympathy poured in, protests broke out across the country, fuelled by grief and by accusations that the government does too little to protect religious minorities in the Muslim-majority country. One person died in the protests. Protests continued today in Peshawar, Karachi, Islamabad, Gujrat, Sialkot, Narowal, Kasur, Toba Tek Singh, Faisalabad, Okara, Veharhi, Sahiwal, Khanewal, Multan and Quetta. The Peshawar Anglican Diocese bishop, the Rt. Rev. Humphrey Peters, said the attack represents a "total failure of the new [provincial] government...and [that the] government has failed to provide security to the minorities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa." Government officials joined Pakistan’s top clerics in demanding heavier security for minorities, and expressed second thoughts about attempting dialogue with militant Islamists. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, head of the worldwide Anglican Church, to which All Saints Church belongs, sent condolences directly to the moderator of the church in Pakistan, Bishop Samuel Azariah. "I am appalled to learn of the attack on All Saints’ Church in Peshawar as people had gathered there to pray. My heart goes out to all those bereaved and injured by this terrible attack," he told Azariah. The All Pakistan Ulema Council, an association of Muslim clerics and scholars, branded the attacks as "shameful.”

 

Religious Leaders Condemn Mass Murders at Kenyan Mall

The stand-off at Westgate shopping center in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi continued well into the night on Monday, the third day since the siege started. In late afternoon there was heavy gunfire and explosions as Kenya Defense Forces engaged the attackers. Kenyan officials announced later that they were in the final stages of bringing to an end the stand-off. In the early hours today officials said they had freed hostages, but did not say how many. They also said they had killed three of the attackers and were combing the mall for more survivors. Just before 2 am local time today news spread that security and medical personnel were packing up and leaving the scene. Then at around 06:30 more gunfire and an explosion were heard. No further details were available. While the death toll was revised from the earlier 68 to 62, it is still expected that it would rise considerably as more bodies are discovered. The Kenyan Red Cross said at least another 62 people were unaccounted for. Meanwhile responses came from religious leaders in the country. “Pray for those who are traumatized from the incident; that the Lord will give them strength and the ability to stand the trial. Also, pray that the Lord will continue to hold this country together as we too pray for the leadership of this country,” the call came from one Christian leader whose name was not immediately available. “I ask the community of the Catholic Church to pray for the victims and to pray for those who are still held in the mall,” a Catholic priest told media. “As Christians, we should be able to reach out and share love with our brothers and sisters from different faiths,” Rev. John Mark, of the Anglican Church of Kenya, commented. Various Muslim leaders also came out to condemn the attack, appealing for calm and vowing to work with the security agents as investigations continue. “If those who are in that mall are hearing us, let those people go! I have not come across any Islam that encourages wanton violence. Some of you have used the name of Islam in the most negative of ways but it is high time you let the Kenyans and the rest of those people in that mall go, alive,” Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar Hassan appealed to the attackers.

(For more information or to set up interviews, call Jerry Dykstra at 616-915-4117 or email jerryd@odusa.org).