Monday, March 28, 2016

Pope Francis demands that Christians be protected from the violence witnessed in Pakistan this Easter

Pope Demands Protection for Christians After 'Hideous' Pakistan Attack

Image: Pope Demands Protection for Christians After 'Hideous' Pakistan Attack
By Newsmax Wires   |   Monday, 28 Mar 2016 06:59 AM
Pope Francis on Monday condemned the Easter suicide bomb by Islamist militants that killed at least 70 people in Pakistan, many of them Christians, as "hideous" and demanded that the country's authorities protect Christians and other religious minorities.
"I appeal to civil authorities and all sectors of that nation to make every effort to restore security and serenity to the population, and in particular to the most vulnerable religious minorities," he said.

The Vatican on Sunday had condemned the attack as "fanatical violence against Christian minorities."
Addressing thousands of people in St. Peter's Square on Easter Monday, a religious holiday, the pope said Pakistan had been "bloodied by a hideous attack that massacred so many innocent people, mostly families of the Christian minority."
The pope, speaking from the window of the Vatican's Apostolic Palace to crowds in the square below, called the Sunday evening attack in a busy park in the Pakistani city of Lahore, "a vile and senseless crime."
Pope Francis, leader of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, said he also prayed that God would "stop the hands of the violent ones who sow terror and death". Pakistan is a majority-Muslim state though it has a Christian population of more than 2 million.

Jamaat-ur-Ahrar claimed responsibility for the attack late on Sunday night and issued a direct challenge to the government.
"We carried out the Lahore attack as Christians are our target," Ehansullah Ehsan, spokesman for the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar faction of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, told AFP by telephone on Monday from an undisclosed location.
He said the group would carry out more such attacks, vowing to target schools and colleges alongside government and military interests.
Pakistani authorities on Monday hunted members of the Taliban faction which once declared loyalty to Islamic State. The brutality of Sunday's attack by Jamaat-ur-Ahrar, the group's fifth bombing since December, reflects the movement's attempts to raise its profile among Pakistan's increasingly fractured Islamist militants.
At least 29 children enjoying an Easter weekend outing were among those killed when the suicide bomber struck in a busy park in the eastern city of Lahore, the power base of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Military spokesman Gen. Asim Bajwa said intelligence agencies, the army and paramilitary Rangers had launched several raids around Punjab following the attack. "Number of suspect terrorists and facilitators arrested and huge cache of arms and ammunition recovered," he said in a tweet that gave no detail. He could not be reached for further comment.
Prime Minister Sharif toured hospitals full of victims, promising to bring justice.
"Our resolve as a nation and as a government is getting stronger and (the) coward enemy is trying for soft targets," Sharif said, according to a statement from his office, calling for stronger intelligence coordination.
Lahore is the capital of Pakistan's richest province, Punjab, and is seen as the country's political and cultural heartland. Markets, schools and courts in Lahore were closed on Monday as the city mourned.

Material from AFP, Reuters and The Associated Press was used in this report.
© 2016 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

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