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MNN (01/18/06) – Tensions have boiled over against a U-S led air strike that went awry in Pakistan .

According to Pakistani officials, the CIA mission in question missed its target and killed 17 people. Other news accounts say the strike undermined the goodwill cultivated by US relief in the wake of October’s earthquake that killed more than 80,000 people.

With anti-American sentiment rising, Christians could see trouble. Voice of the Martyrs’ Todd Nettleton says radical Muslims identify Christianity as a Western religion. “Christians become sort of an acceptable target to reflect that anger against the West, because again, they identify Christianity as being a Western religion. So if you can’t attack westerners, and you can’t attack America , who can you attack? Well, the church down the street, that’ll have to do.”

Nettleton says with the attacks that have occurred, churches are responding with caution. “Many of the churches have removed any signage that they had in front of their buildings. Anything that would draw attention to the fact that a Christian institution is based there. So, I think that this will just step up their caution a little bit but I don’t think it will make dramatic changes in terms of what the Pakistani Christians are doing.”

There were already signs that persecution was on the rise. Recently, the application of the country’s anti-blasphemy laws has fallen hard against Christians, adding further cause for discretion.

Please pray for the Christans in Pakistan . Many of them continue to work quietly.