Pakistan ‘under the terrible grip of terrorism’

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Bishop of Peshawar has said that Pakistanis are living “under the terrible grip of terrorism” and urged worldwide prayer for his country after the latest terror attack this morning left 19 people dead and 17 injured. Responsibility for the gun attack on the Bacha Khan University in Charsadda remains unclear. One Pakistani Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility; but this was later denied by another Taliban leader, according to BBC News.

This morning’s attack is just the latest in a string of attacks to hit the country in the past 12 months.

In January 2015, 40 people were killed after a bomb went off at a Shia mosque in Shikarpur district, Sindh province. A month later at least 20 people were killed at another Shia mosque, this time in Peshawar, after it was stormed by militants with guns and grenades.

In May a gun attack on a bus carrying Ismaili Shia Muslims in Karachi resulted in the deaths of 45 people. In September, an attack on an air force base in Peshawar left 29 people dead. Last month 24 people were killed at a clothes market in the Kurram tribal region.

Just last week, 15 people – 14 of them security agents – were killed when a suicide bomber targeted a Polio clinic in the city of Quetta.

Previously, a Taliban attack on a church in Peshawar in 2013 left 127 people dead and 250 injured; and in 2014, 141 people were murdered – 132 of them school children – when terrorists attacked a school in the city.

“It is very, very sad and really difficult for us to be going through all these atrocities and problems and terrorism,” the Bishop of Peshawar, the Rt Revd Humphrey Peters said.

In an interview with Aaron James for the UK’s Premier Christian Radio, Bishop Peters said that today’s attack in Charsadda – part of the diocese of Peshawar – had left him not knowing what to say “except to pray and ask people to pray for us.

“We are under the terrible grip of terrorism. . . We are very disturbed about it.”

The bishop, who was in Charsadda earlier this year for a New Year service on 1 January, said that the security forces in Pakistan have urged people to “be very careful [and] be very alert.”

He revealed that schools in the region were closed earlier this week because of a security alert and that rumours about an attack were circulating yesterday. “And today this thing has happened.”

He continued: “Things are not decreasing. Always we are under threat.”

The bishop described the victims of today’s attack as innocent people who were preparing for a function at 11 am when the terrorists struck at around 9.30 am.

“What we have said to everyone in the churches and everywhere is please start praying, especially for the bereaved families; and especially the people who have lost their lives and people who are injured.

“People who get injured are really in a very bad condition. There are still people who were injured in the [2013] church attack; and people who were injured in the [2014] school attack – many of them are still on their beds.

“So their lives become really . . . it is very difficult for them to survive and to live their lives properly.

“So we have asked every congregation and everyone that they should start remembering and start praying for these families who have lost their beloved ones and who have got injured. . . And so, through you, it is our earnest request to everyone – all the Christians, and all faith-abiding people, that they should be remembering Pakistan, and especially our area, our region, in their prayers.”

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