15 Christians massacred in church

( [email protected] ) Oct 31, 2003 10:34 AM EST

Women keened over the bodies of 15 Christians lying in pools of blood in a Pakistani church on Sunday after masked gunmen on motorcyles drew up, shot dead a police guard and sprayed the congregation with Kalashnikov fire.

Christians fear they could become targets if unrest breaks out in Muslim Pakistan over opposition to the U.S. attacks on Afghanistan's ruling Taliban.

"We will take action against whosoever is involved, no matter what their religion," Senior Superintendent of Police Arif Ikram said. "This is terrorism."

As some 70 Christians gathered for regular Sunday morning services, six men on three motorcycles rode up to Saint Dominic's Church and pulled AK47 assault rifles out of their bags. Shouting "Graveyard of Christians - Pakistan and Afghanistan," and "This is just a start", they raced up to the church while the guards were asleep and opened fire, killing one.

Four gunmen entered the church chanting "Allah-u-Akbar" [God is Greater] while two waited outside to shoot anyone who tried to flee, a witness said.

"The method used and the inhuman tactics clearly indicate involvement of trained terrorists," President Pervez Musharraf said in statement expressing his shock and sorrow. "We will track down the culprits and bring them to justice," he said.

Pakistan's minister for minorities affairs, S.K. Tressler, said the Christians of the area have been receiving threats for the past few days. "They [the administration] should have properly reacted to these threats," Tressler, a Christian, said.