IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy Aid to the Ch
By Simon Caldwell
MANCHESTER, England (CNS) — Archbishop Sebastian Shaw of Lahore,
Pakistan, said he was grief stricken while visiting hospitalized child
victims of an Easter bomb attack in a city park.
Speaking with the pontifical
foundation Aid to the Church in Need March 29, the archbishop said that seeing
severely injured children, some as young as 4, was “truly difficult.”
The children were among 340
people injured by a suicide bomber. At least 72 people died, including 29
children, in the March 27 attack in which a splinter group of the Taliban specifically
targeted Christian families celebrating Easter, authorities said.
Archbishop Shaw described how he
went from bed to bed listening to accounts of the attack from the victims and
their families, according to a statement from the charity.
“I visited every bedside and
every victim, of whatever faith. It was truly difficult because I saw so many
children, only 4 or 5 (years old), both Christians and Muslims, who had been wounded
or killed by this terrible attack,” Archbishop Shaw said.
He said that besides Christian and
Muslim families, other non-Christians were in the park at the time of the
attack as well.
“To my own faithful, I said that
they must not give up hope because, even though we were going through a period
of grave difficulties, we have to learn to rise up again, just as Christ was
able to raise himself again, despite carrying the cross,” he added.
The archbishop noted that
security had been tightened around churches in Lahore, which had been the
targets of terrorist attacks on Easter in 2015.
Police, he said, did not
consider that the park might be a potential target of the terror groups.
“After the attacks last year on
two Christian churches in Youhanabad,
we were fearful that there might be another attack, and for this reason the
government had provided all the necessary security measures to protect the
churches, but no one had thought about the park,” he explained.
Peter Jacob, former director of
the Pakistan Justice and Peace Commission, told Aid to the Church in Need that the attacker
detonated the bomb when the park was at its busiest, with about 3,000 people
there at the time.
Meanwhile, Wilson Chowdhry, chairman of the
British Pakistani Christian Association, said in a March 28 statement
that the attack offered more evidence of a campaign of genocide against
Christians in Pakistan.
“Pakistan is not safe for
Christians as there is a genocide taking place there. Not a genocide that is
state-sponsored in its entirety but a genocide nevertheless,” he said while
calling on world governments to respond to the attacks so that the Christian death
toll does not continue to mount.
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