FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Pastor Left for Dead at Cathedral Gate
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(January 13, 2009) The Washington-DC based human rights group, International Christian Concern (ICC) www.www.persecution.org has learned that a young pastor who was kidnapped on Friday evening by unidentified men was found badly injured near the gate of Saint John’s Cathedral Church on Sunday night in Peshawar, Pakistan.
Pastor Tanzil Zafar, a 28 year-old pastor of the Church of Pakistan and father of two children, is being treated at Mission Hospital Peshawar. Munawar Rumalshah, the bishop of Peshawar diocese, said, “He was badly traumatized and his body was swollen when we found him near the Cathedral gate.”
A First Information Report (FIR) has been registered and the police are still investigating the case. No one has claimed responsibility. Pastor Zafar did make a statement to police, but his testimony has so far been kept confidential. According to church authorities and other sources, the pastor has no personal enmity with anyone in the area.
A statement from the Diocese of Peshawar expressed concern over an increase in kidnappings in Peshawar. “The police services have been marvelous in working out this case,” the Diocese stated. However, the statement added, “Kidnapping in the area goes unabated. It really affects the entire community, especially when religious leaders are abducted.”
Last year, Taliban militants from the group Lashkar-e-Islam kidnapped 16 Christians at gun point in Peshawar and moved them to some unknown place nearby. However, the next day all the Christians were released.
Samuel Wallace, ICC’s Regional Manager for South Asia, said, “This strategic targeting of Christians in Peshawar shows that radical Muslims have a systematic plan to threaten and chase Christians out of the city. The Pakistani government needs to step up its efforts to eliminate the Taliban threat in Peshawar to ensure the safety of all the city’s residents.”
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ICC is a Washington-DC based human rights organization that exists to help persecuted Christians worldwide. ICC delivers humanitarian aid, trains and supports persecuted pastors, raises awareness in the US regarding the problem of persecution, and is an advocate for the persecuted on Capitol Hill and the State Department. For additional information or for an interview, contact ICC at 800-422-5441.