Pakistani Christians gather at a church March 16 to protest two suicide attacks on churches in Lahore. The latest round of attack happened June 4 when two gunmen open fired at St. Joseph Church CNS photo/Courtesy of Rahat Dar, EPA

Pakistan parish boosts security, including armed guards, after attack

By 
  • June 9, 2016

LAHORE, Pakistan – Christians in Lahore are ramping up security measures following a shooting at a Catholic church in the Punjab capital.

Two gunmen on motorcycles opened fire on the main door of St. Joseph Church, in the city's Dhup Sarri Christian neighbourhood in the early hours of June 4.

Nobody was hurt in the incident, which caused minor damage to the church and a nearby school.

Meanwhile, police have launched a manhunt for the gunmen and placed the church under 24-hour guard. Police have yet to establish a motive for the attack.

"Perhaps the culprits meant to stoke sectarian tensions in the area. Damaging a place of worship is wicked," Iqbal Hasan, a police officer, told ucanews.com.

In response to the attack, local Christians said they cannot rely on police to protect them and met June 8 with the assistant parish priest to discuss their own security measures.

Several steps were agreed upon at the meeting including improved closed-circuit television surveillance, using armed guards and installing security barriers around the church, said Fr. Asif Sardar, the parish's assistant pastor.

"This is the second time this community has been targeted. I have asked people not to be afraid and refrain from any retaliation. We need to be careful and think of our children. God is the greatest protector," he said.

A mob rampaged in Dhup Sarri May 24, 2015, after a mentally ill man was accused of burning pages of the Quran. The windows of St. Joseph Church were broken during the unrest.

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