Christmas was cancelled in Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier, the Bishop of Peshawar writes.
In an email to supporters, the Bishop of Peshawar the Rt. Rev. Humphrey Peters, stated Taliban attacks had made it unsafe for Christians to attend public worship. The “recent attack on the Army Public School and Degree College in Peshawar has broken everyone in our region. “
He wrote that last year’s “double suicide attack at All Saints Church “ was a tragedy but last week’s terror attack was monstrous. The “shooting in the heads, eyes, mouths and beheading small children is simply brutal and barbarous. No human having the fear of God can do it, but this is how the terrorists did it.”
On 16 December 2014 even members of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) stormed the military academy and opened fire on school staff and children, killing 145 people, including 132 students, ranging between eight and eighteen years of age. The Pakistani Army’s Special Services Group responded to the attack, killing all seven terrorists and rescuing 960 students and teachers. At a press conference Major General Asim Bajwa said at least 130 people had been injured in the attack.
Bishop Peters wrote the diocese had decided to cancel public worship this Christmas. “We shall be celebrating Christmas in a simple way. Many people have asked us, ‘This will be the second Christmas without celebrations?’ but we tell them the tiny Church is here to be a source of solace for the total people of God.”
The terror campaign waged by the Taliban might cause the church to lower its public profile, but its work would continue, he said.
“Despite all the atrocities, I personally feel the local and the international church can still play an effective role to be a source of comfort for everyone in this, one of the most dangerous regions, which our diocese is trying to help in its very humble way.”
“Recently, we have constructed a church on the border of a tribal area, and, in addition to five parishes, we have started two new parishes in the tribal areas. We feel it is essential to have the Church presence even in the most dangerous areas. We are also looking after the Christians, Hindus and some Shia Muslim internally displaced persons from the war zone area of Miranshah in Waziristan.”
Bishop Peters asked Christians round the world to keep the diocese “in your special prayers.” The Diocese of Northeast India across the Himalayas focused its prayers upon the tragedy in Peshawar, its bishop, the Rt. Rev. Michael Herenz, said.
“We will have prayers for them. On Christmas, we worship baby Jesus. The killing of children is simply unimaginable. We will pray for them and the entire humanity,” Bishop Herenz said.