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Priest gunned down in Pakistan

A Catholic priest was shot and killed in eastern Pakistan early on Saturday, according to local police.

No one took immediate responsibility for the shooting death of Fr George Ibrahim sometime after midnight in Ranala Kot, a small village about 300 kilometers south of the capital Islamabad.

No arrests have been made. Gunmen broke into his home and shot him, police said.

Ibrahim had received several death threats, according to Shahbaz Bhatti, head of the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance.

The threats appeared linked to a school that had been returned to the Roman Catholic church by the province.

"He wanted to denationalise the school, which had been the property of the church and when he got it back he received threats saying 'you will pay a price for the school,'" Bhatti said in a telephone interview.

It was not known who made the threats, but Bhatti feared it was extremist Muslim groups, who have been blamed for previous attacks against Christians in Pakistan.

Bhatti said that Pakistan's minority Christian community has been targeted by extremist groups since the 2001 start of the US-led war on terror in Afghanistan because Christians here are associated with the United States, which is seen as a mostly Christian country.


Catholic priest killed in Afghanistan (UPI)
Priest gunned down by unknown assailants near Okara (HI Pakistan)
Priest Shot to Death in Pakistan (Zenit)
Pakistan Catholics fear Islamic Law Bill (2/7/03)
Pakistani Bishops' Justice and Peace Commission condemns 'hate speech' (13/1/03)

7 Jul 2003