Suspected Islamist gunmen attack a Christian clergyman and his family and critically injured his son
A Pakistani clergyman, and his family, were attacked today (Wednesday April 27, 2011), by two militants allegedly belonging to the group called of Tehreek-e-Ghazi Bin Shaheed (TGBS), near Hamza Town, Lahore, leaving the 24-year-old son, critically injured.
This news was relayed to the ASSIST News Service by Joseph Francis, head of the Center for Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS) who said that the Rev. Ashraf Paul, and his family, were traveling in their vechicle on Ferozepur Road when two motorbike riders intercepted them and then open fire on their car hitting it at least five times and seriously injuring the son.
Mr. Francis and his team of lawyers, who are now investigating the violence, went on to say that the gunmen fled after the attack and so far their identities have not been established.
Sarfraz Paul (24), the pastor’s son, sustained critical bullet injuries and was immediately taken to the nearest general hospital, from where doctors referred him to the Mayo Hospital, located in the heart of Lahore City, for emergency surgery.
At the Mayo Hospital, doctors recovered three bullets from the jaw, waist and pubic area of the young man.
After the operation at Mayo Hospital, Sarfraz Paul was described as “out of danger” but was still under the vigilant observation of the doctors.
The Rev. Ashraf Paul said that the armed attackers appeared to be between 19 and 21 years of age, and one was overweight and wearing a pant shirt, while other was of slim stature and wore a Shalwar Qameez (Pakistani local dress).
Prior to this incident, the Rev. Paul had received a letter on March 30, 2011, telling him to stop his evangelical activities. It was claimed to be from Tehreek-e-Gazi Bin Shaheed (TGBS), an Islamic organization in Pakistan, and signed by its leader.
Rev. Paul contacted CLAAS and informed them that he, along with his family, were constantly receiving these death threats which told him to stop church and Christian publishing work.
They also demanding pastor to pay the equivalent of US $119,79USD, as a “poll-tax” otherwise they said they would kill him and his family.
The Rev. Paul, 55, said he turned down their demands and this why they may have attacked him and his family.
He has been the pastor of Hope Fellowship Evangelical Ministry in Hamza Town, near Youhanabad, Lahore and was converted to Christianity in 1970. He went to seminary some ten years later where he got three years of pastoral training and then, in 1983, he was deputed as principle of the Good News Center at Dera Ghazi Khan.
In 1998, the pastor was appointed as assistant director at the Eye Hospital at Gillgit and the following year, he moved to Lahore and joined Pakistan Bible Society as a proof reader.
Pastor Ashraf is also well-known in Pakistan as a writer and a poet.
At press time, an official complaint against the unidentified shooters has been submitted to the Nishter Colony Police Station with anticipation that a First Information Report (FIR) would soon be installed.
Jawad Mazhar is a Pakistani journalist specializing in writing about Christian persecution. He was born on November 28, 1976 at Sargodha’s village Chak and raised in Sargodha, a city in Pakistan’s Punjab province. He earned his Bachelors Degree from Allama Iqbal Open University majoring in computer sciences and has taught at various educational institutes in his country. He is also involved with “Rays of Development,” an organization working for minority rights in Pakistan. He says, “My aim is to help eradicate Christian persecution through my writing as I bring the plight of these brave people under the spotlight of the whole world.”