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Seven injured at Midnight Mass bombing in India, three killed in another attack in Pakistan


AFP reports "Seven people were injured when men disguised as worshippers threw bombs at a midnight Christmas service in eastern India after robbing the priest, police said. Up to 20 assailants dressed in white to blend in with the faithful packed in with more than 1,000 others at the Catholic church in Maliapota, some 45km northeast of Calcutta as Christmas prayers were set to begin." In a later report, The Statesman of India reported "Police suspect that the attack was pre-planned and carried out by local villagers because they were against conversions and also wanted to disrupt the Christmas party." In neighbouring Pakistan Associated Press reports, three people were killed and four critically injured when two people wearing burqas attacked a Christian service being conducted on Christmas Day.

The Statesman report continued...

"All of them (the attackers) were wearing masks but we suspect that all of them were from nearby villages," Father Abraham of the church said.

Some residents said the church authorities started converting the villagers into Christianity soon after it was opened in 1951. "Slowly they opened 13 more churches in the area which became the bone of contention of the local people since more and more villagers were turning to Christians," a senior police officer said. Things have come to such a pass that there are more Christians in Tehatta which previously had a dominant Muslim population.

Father Abraham said that preparation for a five-day Christmas party has stopped following the robbery. "We had decided to hold processions, stage theatres, poems and other functions till 1 January but now everything has been stopped." The villagers who have converted to Christianity are shocked at the incident. "They could have taken some other way to protest than attacking the church," one of the newly converts said.

In neighbouring Pakistan Associated Press reports, three people were killed and four critically injured when two people wearing burqas attacked a Christian service being conducted on Christmas Day in the predominantly Moslem, Punjab Province. Police said the attack came despite security precautions at the church. More than half a dozen policemen cradling rifles had stood outside the church in the days leading up to Christmas.

SOURCES:
NineMSN/AFP
Statesman
KABC-TV/AP



27 Dec 2002