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Press Release — August 5, 2002

6 Killed in Attack on Christian School in Pakistan

(Lahore, Pakistan – August 5, 2002) Around noon today in Pakistan, the Murree Christian School was attacked by Muslim militants, killing at least six and wounding several others.

Approximately 4 or 5 terrorists entered the premises of the school near the Pakistani capital of Islamabad. The terrorists were carrying weapons and explosives as they approached the church located on the school premises. They were stopped by security guards, at which time the terrorist started firing indiscriminately, killing two security guards, a retired teacher, and four others before they managed to escape. A number of other unidentified individuals were reported wounded in the attack.

Murree Christian School was founded by American Protestant Missionaries and is located about 40 miles northeast of Islamabad in the foothills of the Himalayan mountains. The school was first established in 1956 to teach the children of missionaries and foreign workers, including Christians and Muslims alike.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, but it is widely speculated that it is the work of Islamic militants associated with Al Qeda. Police have sealed off the school and closed all the roads leading to the school as a further security precaution.

The president of International Christian Concern (ICC), a Washington, DC based human rights organization, said: “ICC strongly condemns the brutal act of terrorism and is asking Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf to take every measure possible to strengthen security around Christian schools and churches. Furthermore, we call on President Musharraf to end the government-sponsored policy of intolerance toward Christians and other minority groups by appealing Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.” The blasphemy laws, Penal Codes 295 B&C, have commonly been used against Christians who have allegedly blasphemed Islam or the Prophet Muhammad, resulting in a number of death sentences. While none of the death sentences have yet been carried out, some Christians have died in prison and others remain incarcerated.

This incident marks the third violent attack against Christians in Pakistan since Pakistan joined the US-led war on terrorism. Sixteen people died in an attack in October when Muslim terrorists opened fire on Christians attending church in the city of Bahawalpur. Then on March 17, another attack took place on the International Protestant Church in Islamabad as three masked men entered the church and threw grenades into the midst of the worshipers, killing four, including an American woman and her teenage daughter.

“This tragic incident has again generated a wave of insecurity among the Christians as they become targets of Muslim extremists groups who identify with the goals of Osama bin Laden,” said the president of International Christian Concern.

International Christian Concern is a Washington, DC based human rights organization that advocates on behalf of Christians worldwide who are suffering persecution for their faith. More information is available at www.www.persecution.org