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Pakistan bishops urge low-key Christmas celebrations as precaution

Catholic bishops in Pakistan have called for subdued Christmas celebrations amid fear of anti-Christian attacks.

Bishop Andrew Francis of Multan, president of the bishops' commission for interreligious dialogue, said the threat of attacks was high because of the war in neighbouring Afghanistan.

Bishop Francis referred to the millions of Afghan refugees in Pakistan and the fears that there might be attacks on churches in retaliation for US military action in Afghanistan.

Most Muslims in both countries view the United States as a Christian country. The bishops' conference has acknowledged Christian fears due to the war in Afghanistan but reminded Catholics to be faithful to Christ's message of peace and reconciliation. The bishops urged Catholics to "take extra security measures during Christmas services."