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Attackers of school in Pakistan cite ‘injustices’ against Muslims

WASHINGTON (BP)–Gunmen who attacked a boarding school for the children of Christian missionaries and diplomats in Pakistan Aug. 5 left a note saying the assault was in retaliation for injustices they said were experienced by Muslims in various conflict zones, CNSNews.com reported Aug. 6.

Six adults, all Pakistanis, were killed in the shooting at the Murree Christian School 50 kilometers north of Islamabad, and at least four others were injured.

The dead included two hired security guards, a cook, a receptionist, a carpenter and a man described as a bystander.

Thirty Americans were among the 150 pupils between the ages of 6 and 18 who were attending classes at the time of the attack. Others hail from 20 countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Korea, the Philippines and European nations.

No children were hurt during the 15-minute incident before the four gunmen fled over a fence behind the school in the Himalayan foothills, according to its Australian principal, Russell Morton.

The attackers, armed with automatic rifles, left a note which reportedly expressed anger about the deaths of Muslims in the Middle East and Kashmir.

An Australian staffer, Barry Lock, told Australian radio the gunmen had tried to force their way into a hospital building where kindergarten children were holding class, firing through windows.

“We’re a Christian school and we believe that the God that we serve cared for us in quite a remarkable way, although it was at the cost of six Pakistani friends and staff,” he said.

Heavily armed soldiers guarded the school Aug. 6 as the director and staff met to discuss the school’s immediate future.

Morton said he thought the attackers intended to cause trouble for the Pakistani government. Gen. Pervez Musharraf has become an important ally of the United States in the campaign against terror, upsetting militant Islamic groups in Pakistan as a result.

Since the U.S.-led campaign was launched after Sept. 11, terrorists have struck a number of foreign and Christian targets in Pakistan, killing American, French, Pakistani and Afghan nationals in a series of bomb and shooting attacks.

The school attack was the third on an obvious Christian institution, and it prompted the Pakistan Christian Congress to criticize the government for not taking Christians’ security seriously.

“The killing is an open indication of [the] presence of the militant groups in Pakistan and a challenge to the government,” said the body’s president, Nazir Bhatti, in a statement.

State Department spokesman Philip Reeker said the United States condemned “this outrageous act of terrorism.”

Secretary of State Colin Powell had spoken to Musharraf by phone, extending his condolences, Reeker said.

Meanwhile security concerns shut down the U.S. Consulate in Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi, on Aug. 5.

Reeker said the mission would remain closed until an agreement could be reached with local government authorities over security issues related to the reopening of a road closed after 12 Pakistanis were killed in a car bomb attack outside the consulate June 14.
Malhotra is a correspondent with www.CNSNews.com. CNSNews Pacific Rim bureau chief Patrick Goodenough contributed to this report. Used by permission.

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  • T.C. Malhotra