Peshawar: A priest (Bishop) was shot dead and another injured by unidentified gunmen returning home after prayer in the northwestern city of Peshawar, Pakistan.
Bishop William Siraj was shot several times and died on the spot, while Father Naeem Patrick was injured in the attack in Peshawar’s Gulbahar area, police said.
Police immediately reached the spot and started search operation. Tight security arrangements have been made at the entry and exit gates to nab the criminals.
No organization has immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. This is the latest case in recent years of attacks targeting the minority Christian community in Pakistan.
Capital City Police officer Abbas Ahsan said two attackers were involved in the incident. “A detailed inquiry has been initiated in this regard,” he said. The official called it a “terrorist act”.
“We are committed to protect the minorities,” Ehsan said. He said that a team of officials of Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) and Peshawar Police has been formed to probe the matter.
Police said they were reviewing the CCTV footage to trace the assailants who fled on motorcycles. “Evidence is being collected from the crime scene and CCTV cameras are also being checked,” police said in a statement.
According to the statement, “William Siraj was a pastor in a church under Chamkni police station.” The body has been sent to the hospital for post-mortem, while further investigation is on, the statement said. A spokeswoman for Lady Reading Hospital said the injured pastor, who had suffered minor injuries, has been discharged after treatment.
Hafiz Mohammad Tahir Mahmood Ashrafi, President of the Pakistan Ulema Council and the Prime Minister’s Special Representative for Inter-Religious Harmony and the Middle East, condemned the attack on the priest.
Chief Minister Mahmood Khan condemned the attack and directed the police to arrest the attackers at the earliest. He said that criminals will not be able to escape from the clutches of the law.
Khan also ordered to provide best medical facilities for the injured father. Angry protesters blocked the Ring Road in protest against the killing of Bishop.
According to the 2017 census, Hindus are the largest religious minority in Pakistan. The Christian community is the second largest religious minority.