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Pakistan Bishops condemn suicide bombings

Two Catholic bishops in Pakistan have condemned suicide bombings in their country in recent days and expressed solidarity with the victims of the violence.

"Although we cannot say who is doing this, we must however say that these acts are inhuman and barbaric and we strongly condemn them," said Bishop Joseph Coutts of Faisalabad Bishop Andrew Francis Multan.

AsiaNews reports that rising tensions between Shiites and Sunnis have led to massacres in different Muslim places of worship causing scores of victims. On Sunday, a bomb exploded in a Shiite mosque in Lahore killing four people. Last Thursday, two bombs killed 41 people injuring more than 100 at a Sunni rally in Multan. On 1 October, suicide bombers blew themselves up in the Shiite mosque in Sialkot leaving 31 people dead and 75 wounded.

Bishop Francis represented the Catholic Churchh at the funerals of the Multan attack victims. He also visited their families to share their grief and sorrow.

Meanwhile Bishop Coutts criticised the Government's ban on all public meetings and religious gatherings.

"This is affecting the church in a special way," he said. "Many conventions and public religious meetings are held throughout the country in the months of October and November and can last up to three days and these events are public expressions of our faith and have an important educational value in preparing Christians."

Most parishes will still hold the events but they will be low key. Instead of congregating in public places or large open spaces people will meet in churches.

"This will certainly reduce the number of faithful participating," Bishop Coutts warned, "but they will continue to pray, celebrate their faith and give witness to it".

The bishops added that they "were praying for the safe return of two Chinese engineers seized in South Waziristan" and "for peace in Pakistan".

Bishops express solidarity for the victims of violence among Muslims and pray that it may end ( 13/10/04)

Pakistani tribal elders back the use of force to free two Chinese hostages after talks fail (Associated Press/ 13/10/04)
Lahore bomber in police net (The Telegraph, Calcutta, 13/10/04)
Over a Dozen Held After Suicide Bomb Attack on Mosque (Al Jazeera 12/10/04)

14 Oct 2004