Pakistan: Christian Priest Shot Dead In Peshawar

Adams Peter

Adams Peter

A Christian priest was shot dead in Peshawar, northern Pakistan, when the vehicle he was travelling in was attacked by unidentified assailants on 30 January. Another priest was injured during the attack.

Pastor William Siraj, a retired schoolteacher and priest at a church in the Chamkani area, was travelling home from a Sunday service with his friend Reverend Patrick Naeem and a third individual when two unidentified attackers opened fire on their vehicle from a motorcycle. Pastor Siraj and Rev. Naeem were both shot and taken to the Lady Reading Hospital, however Pastor Siraj was pronounced dead on arrival. The third passenger was uninjured.

In the aftermath of the attack, Peshawar police chief Abbas Ahsan linked the incident to terrorist elements, reporting that the investigation was being carried out by officials from the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) as well as local police.

Christians and other religious and belief minorities have been targeted with violence in Peshawar in the past, including notably on 22 September 2013 when twin suicide bombings which took place at All Saints Church killed at least 127 people and injured over 250.

Several Christian organisations in Pakistan have condemned the attack, including The Cecil & Iris Chaudhry Foundation (CICF), whose president Michelle Chaudhry said in a statement: “We demand of the Government of Pakistan to hold the perpetrators accountable. Those responsible for this heinous act of violence must be brought to justice. We cannot allow this to go on; impunity around violence against religious minorities in Pakistan has to end.”

“We extend our deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of Pastor William Siraj, and we wish Reverend Naeem a swift and full recovery. It has been over seven and a half years since the Pakistani Supreme Court issued a landmark judgement instructing the government to protect minorities, and yet attacks such as these are not met with sufficient action or even condemnation from senior figures in Pakistan, including Prime Minister Imran Khan himself. We call on the government of Pakistan to ensure that this attack is thoroughly investigated, that the perpetrators are prosecuted, and to significantly increase its efforts to protect minority communities across the country”, CSW’s Founder President Mervyn Thomas said.

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