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Churches unite after bin Laden death

Abbottabad Christians set up youth group security cordons in wake of terrorist's killing

Churches unite after bin Laden death
Father Akram Javed Gill, right, speaking at the meeting of Church leaders in Abbottabad
Kamran Chaudhry, Abbottabad

May 4, 2011

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Church leaders in this northern city today demanded government protection in the wake of the death of Osama bin Laden which they fear will shatter the peace they have enjoyed for 10 years. “There was a not a single bombing here for about a decade of the war on terror,"  said Father Akram Javed Gill, chairman of the interdenominational Association of Churches of Hazara Division. "Now we know the reason." Bin Laden, the head of terror group Al Qaeda and mastermind of the 9/11 attacks in the United States, was killed by US special forces in a raid on Monday in Abbottabad,  a military garrison town about 60 km north of Islamabad. His home was near an elite military academy and the headquarters of several important regiments. Martin Venoz, a Catholic Church council member, watched the operation unfold from his three-story house located a few meters from bin Laden’s mansion. “A window pane broke and two doors were damaged when the malfunctioning US helicopter was destroyed," he told Father Javed said today “the shocking discovery” has put his city in spotlight and the threat of attacks has increased. Banned extremist group Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan has issued a threat that military and government officials are on their hit-list. “We have to revisit our security strategies in a manner without attracting undue attention," says elder Zakir Paul of Presbyterian Church. "Youth groups will be deployed and more protection will be sought from police higher-ups." The men gathered at the house of a Christian in a meeting organized by the association. The 10 participants included representatives from Catholic, Presbyterian, evangelical and Assemblies of God Church. They discussed the Churches' role in maintaining peace and reviewed concerns arising amid minorities. The Christians also agreed to meet the police hierarchy, although officers are “preoccupied with their own security”, and seek protection. Many locals, however, are not celebrating the death of bin Laden. "Many claim he was a martyr. I saw a few women lawyers in tears yesterday in a court," said Paul, himself an attorney. The meeting passed resolutions not to pass information over the phone, to discourage rumors and use Church venues to hold daily prayers for peace. Meanwhile the Foreign Ministry voiced the feelings of the majority of  Pakistanis when it criticized the US for "unauthorized unilateral action" that was carried out without prior information or authorisation from the government of Pakistan. Islamic parties also organized in absentia funeral prayers and protest rallies against killing of hero of many in the Islamic world. picture special: The House where bin Laden died Related reports Archbishop warns of backlash over bin Laden Abbottabad Church holds its breath PA14091

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