Christians Remember All Saints Church Martyrs on Third Anniversary of the Attack
Survivors Mourn as Terrorist Attacks on Christians Increase
09/22/2016 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) — International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Christians in Pakistan’s northwestern city of Peshawar will commemorate the martyrs of Peshawar’s All Saints Church bombing on the attack’s third anniversary. The All Saints Church bombing remains the single deadliest attack on Christians in Pakistan’s independent history with over 130 Christians killed and another 600 requiring immediate medical attention.
Around 11:45 a.m. on September 22, 2013, two suicide bombers associated with the Pakistani Taliban detonated themselves in the church’s courtyard. The church, established in 1883 and considered one of the oldest Christian institutions in the city, had just concluded its Sunday service, so hundreds of church members were gathered in the walled courtyard when the bombs exploded.
While three years have passed since the attack, many of the victims’ families still struggle to survive each day. Christina, a young widow, confesses, “Every day is like the incident just happened. I feel like life is stuck at a point. It is difficult taking care of three children as a single-parent and I worry that my children will struggle without their father, who was a friend, shield, and breadwinner for them.”
Sofia, an eyewitness, describes her physical reaction to any attack reference, “My body starts shaking, my ears shut down, and I am speechless about those painful moments which broke many families.”
The Pakistani government has not offered additional protection to Christians, nor pursued justice for the victims. A Pakistani social activist, Shahkeel, complained that, “Three years have passed since the All Saints Church bombing, but the government has yet to provide adequate security to the Christian residences and churches.”
Because of few security measures being taken to protect Christian communities, terrorist attacks on Christians are becoming more frequent. In March 2016, the Jamaat Ul-Ahrar group, an offshoot of the Pakistani Taliban, orchestrated the second deadliest attack on Christians since the All Saints Church bombing in Lahore, Pakistan. The bombing of Gulshan e-Iqbal Park, which took place on Easter Sunday, resulted in at least 70 dead and more than 300 wounded.
This month, more Jamaat Ul-Ahrar insurgents raided a Christian neighborhood in Peshawar, Pakistan, killing one and damaging dozens of houses. Local security forces and police engaged the terrorists which prevented the deaths of other Christians. In light of the growing frequency of attacks on Christian communities, Shahkeel contends that the “protection of Christians and churches should be the government’s first priority.”
ICC’s Regional Manager, William Stark, said, “Despite the Pakistani government’s token references to Christian security, deadly attacks are increasing. This is an unacceptable reality and we urge for increased protection of Christian communities until they are no longer the targets of repeated and vicious attacks. ICC will continue to deliver aid and assistance to victims and their families, however, food packages and medical funds will not bring back the dead nor erase the painful memories of the living.”