Pakistan: Catholic girls' school destroyed

 A Catholic school in Sangota, in the area surrounding the city of Swat has been destroyed by raiders, according to a report on Fides from the Pakistani Bishops Justice and Peace Commission.

The girls' boarding school, run by the Apostolic Carmelite Sisters of Sri Lanka was attacked with rudimentary explosives that destroyed the building. No victims have been reported thus far, as the Sisters themselves had closed the school, as a precaution. The school was built in 1965 and had nearly 1,000 students mainly from poor Christian and Muslim families.

According to information released by the Church in Pakistan, the Northwest Frontier Province has suffered attacks on nearly 150 schools in recent years, a sign of the rise in intolerance and the spread of Islamic fundamentalist groups that are trying to annihilate the work of Christian institutions in the area of education.

A spokesman said: "For the Christians living in the Northwest Frontier Province, fear is a part of everyday life. Threats, as well as physical and verbal aggressions continue, while Islamic fundamentalist groups, the so-called 'Pakistani Talibans' continue to terrify the non-Muslim people, forcing conversions to Islam and leading the minorities to have to flee the area.

Other parts of the country are also worried about terrorism, as the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance affirms. The group is dedicated to the defense of religious minorities in the nation. In cities such as Islamabad and Lahore, Christian buildings have received "absurd threats whose only purpose is to sow fear in the hearts of the faithful." Pakistan is becoming a "war zone," the group says.

The Swat Valley is in the hands of the Islamic fundamentalist groups and authorities do not seem to have any control over the territory. There, the religious minorities are victims of violence and persecution.

The Church has asked the new president of Pakistan, Ali Zardari, to take adequate measures in confronting religious extremism that places the lives of non-Muslim Pakistani people at risk, denying them their Constitutional rights and freedoms.

Source: Fides

Tags: Sangota, Swat

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