Gunmen kill seven christian charity workers

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The Independent Online

Gunmen stormed the offices of a Christian welfare organization in the southern Pakistan city of Karachi today, tied seven office workers to their chairs before shooting each in the head at close range, police and intelligence officials said.



Gunmen stormed the offices of a Christian welfare organization in the southern Pakistan city of Karachi today, tying seven office workers to their chairs before shooting each in the head at close range, police and intelligence officials said.

The outrage was the latest in a string of violent attacks against Christians and Westerners. At one other person was critically injured.

The shootings took place in the third–floor offices of the Institute for Peace and Justice, or Idara–e–Amn–o–Insaf, a Pakistani Christian charity. Victims were tied with their hands behind their backs and their mouths taped before being shot point–blank in the head, according to Karachi Police Chief Kamal Shah.

All seven of the dead were Pakistani Christians. It was not clear who was behind the attack.

Mr Shah said police found eight empty shell casings, one for each of those shot. He said five of the dead were found seated in a main room at the office, and the sixth tied to a chair in the bathroom. He said police are questioning an office assistant who was tied up and beaten by the attackers, but not shot.

Police want to know how the gunmen got into the office, which had an electronic door that could only be opened from the inside, he said. The office assistant has told police there were two gunmen involved in the shooting, he said.

The Christian group has been working for 30 years with poor municipal and textile workers to press for basic worker rights, and organizing programs with local human rights groups.

Pakistani Information Minister Nisar Memon condemned the attack, saying those who carried it out were "enemies of Pakistan."

"We are particularly sad about the killings in Karachi because the terrorist have targeted unarmed Christian civilians," the Minister told The Associated Press. He added that the "cowardly terrorist attacks" would not deter Pakistan's resolve.

"Pakistan's cooperation with the world community in the war against terrorism will continue," he said.

The violence shattered a growing sense of confidence among Pakistani leaders that a wide–sweeping crackdown had broken the back of extremist groups that have targeted Christians and Westerners.

This month, police in Karachi arrested 23 members of Harakat ul–Mujahedeen Al–Almi, which is believed behind a June bombing outside the American Consulate, a suicide car bomb in May that killed 11 French engineers, and aborted plots to attack restaurants McDonald's and KFC restaurants in the city.



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