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Time-Bomb Destroys Part of Christian School in Lawless North West Frontier Province

9/20/07 Pakistan (ICC) – Saint John Basco Model School , run by the Catholic Church, was attacked with a time bomb at 2:30am in district Bannu in North West Frontier Province on September 15, 2007. The blast did not hurt anyone, but it did create a 3-foot-square hole into the foundation of the three-story building, and also broke the windows and fans of the Chapel on the third floor of the school. In spite of the attack, the Administration did not close the school the next day.

The bomb reportedly was fixed into the foundation of the three-story school building. The police registered a First Information Report against unidentified culprits and have not arrested anyone for the attack by the time of this report.

According to Mr. Hanook Masih, Administrator at the targeted school, “122 students with the average of 50% Christians and Muslims are studying from nursery to grade 5 under the supervision of two Muslim and four Christian teachers.”

“The school administration had never faced any conflict among the staff and students on the basis of religion…We have an exemplarily interfaith and social harmony atmosphere in the school premises,” he claimed. Mr. Hanook was reluctant to provide further information regarding the issue.

The administrator did not blame any individual or a group for this incident. He said, “We could just pray for peace in our country…We love Pakistan and feel sad for these sorts of violent incidents. We should not relate it to any religious community, because the blast was against the innocent school children who have nothing to do with religious hatred.” Masih wished all the best and good luck to the people of Pakistan .

Visiting the site on September 16, 2007, Father Sohail Patrick, the parish priest, condemned the terrorist activities against Christianity and humanity in recent months by an anonymous group. He stated, “The whole society, country and even the world is under the threat of terrorism. The terrorists do not belong to any religion, they are just the enemies of humanity and we have to be united in prayers against them to promote peace and tolerance in the society.” He urged the authorities to provide security to religious minorities and take action against the culprits.

Leonard Steger, an Italian Mill Hill missionary, built the school in 2002 for about 700 – 800 Christian families settled in different parts of district Bannu.

According to the media reports, 15 civilians, including women and children, and 13 Security personnel died while 54 were injured in bomb blasts, suicide and rocket attacks in July and August 2007. About 6 members of security forces were kidnapped and 11 police check posts were targeted with rockets, resulting in several casualties and injuries in the above mentioned time period. Two bomb blasts were also reported at the civilians’ settlements at Bannu in last two months.