Licenses issued to 41 churches in Quetta for self-defense groups to mount armed guard during worship
The Balochistan state government in southwest Pakistan has donated 26.4 million rupees, ($240,000) to the Church of Pakistan Diocese of Karachi’’s Bethel Memorial Church in Quetta to compensate the families of nine people killed in a terror attack on the church last month during a Christmas pageant rehearsal.
The UCA News agency said the Home and Tribal Affairs Department of the provincial government had donated the funds to help the victims, while the Federal Ministry for Religious Affairs had pledged 5 million rupees to help rebuild the church damaged in the 17 Dec 2017 suicide attack.
The state government has also offered to arm and equip 41 Christian self-defense groups to protect their churches from terror attacks. “The Balochistan Home Department will issue weapon licenses in the name of the churches,” a government spokesman told ucanews.com.
“This will further enable a special force of volunteers to assist local police when services are held. We will form a committee to monitor these developments and settle the problems of those affected,” he said.
The Rev. Simon Bashir, the priest in charge of Bethel Memorial, reports that 30 members of the congregation remain in hospitals in Quetta and Karachi. He was grateful for the support from the provincial government noting that “people, not buildings, are our priority at present.”