Churchwarden sacrifices his life to save congregation during Taliban attack

In an act of extraordinary heroism, a parish warden stopped an Islamist terrorist from detonating a bomb during Sunday worship at Christ Church Youhanabad near Lahore, Pakistan. Fifteen people were murdered during twin attacks on Christ Church and the neighboring St John’s Catholic Church on 15 March 2015, but the heroism of Zahid Yousaf Goga (pictured with his wife, Akash and three children) prevented further bloodshed.

Eyewitnesses to the attack and Pakistani church sources tell Anglican Ink the anti-Christian terror attacks began when four men entered a shop close by the two church in the predominantly Christian neighborhood at approximately 8:00 am. They bound the shopkeeper and waited in the closed shop until 11:00 when approximately 1000 people were worshipping in the two churches.

After killing the shopkeeper, one man wearing an explosive vest entered St John’s at 11:15 and detonated his bomb in the narthex. Moments later a second terrorist entered Christ Church and tried to enter the church. Mr. Goga wrestled the bomber to the ground and the bomb exploded, killing him instantly.

The two accomplices were apprehended by police. However, the enraged mob pushed aside the police and beat to death the two men, setting their bodies alight. The situation in Youhanabad remains tense reports the Rt. Rev. Ijaz Inayat, Bishop of Karachi and former pastor of Christ Church. He urged the government to meet with Christian and Muslim leaders to diffuse the situation. Writing on Facebook Bishop Inayat said he believed the attacks were designed to terrorize Christians, and provoke a sectarian war between the two faiths.

“The suicide attacks on the Churches was not Islam, but the creation of an extremist self styled version of Islam which kills innocent humans. I condemn this extremism.”

“On the other side the reaction shown by our protesting Christians around Youhanabad and other cities is equally condemned as a show of extremism. The parents of the kids and their respective Church leaders failed to play a positive leading role in the gruesome situation. We should train our kids to positive Christian character.”

Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a splinter faction of the Pakistani Taliban, has claimed responsibility for the attack, the Pakistani press reports.

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