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Killing of church police guard 'an act of terrorism'

Pakistan Taliban suspected of shooting

<p>Assembly of God Church in Peshawar after the attack</p>

Assembly of God Church in Peshawar after the attack

  • ucanews.com reporter, Peshawar
  • Pakistan
  • July 8, 2013
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Suspected Taliban militants shot and killed a police constable outside a Pentecostal church in northwestern Pakistan on Saturday, in what police are calling an act of terrorism.

The attack happened outside the Assembly of God Church (AoG) in the Swati Gate locality of Peshawar, the capital of restive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

According to the police, suspected militants riding motorcycles opened fire on Shahzad Gul, killing him instantly. The assailants fled the scene after the attack.

“It was his duty to protect the church. But he was the target of attackers. It is an act of terrorism,” a police officer told reporters after visiting the crime scene.

Two days before this attack, Taliban militants attacked a police checkpost in the same locality, killing two security personnel.

 “The continued attacks are an attempt to demoralize police. But we will continue our targeted operations against the terrorists,” Ihsan Ghani, chief of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police, told reporters after attending the funeral of the slain policeman.

At least 12 policemen, including two senior officers, have been killed in a series of Taliban attacks in Peshawar during the last two weeks.

Some have questioned however whether the church was the prime target, given that Pakistan has witnessed a surge in militant and mob attacks on religious minorities in recent years.

In March this year, the Joseph Colony, a Christian neighborhood in Lahore, was attacked by a mob of 3,000 Muslims following accusations of blasphemy. People armed with batons and pistols torched around 178 houses, 18 shops and two churches.

In a 635-page report in January this year, New York-based Human Rights Watch observed that the condition of religious minorities deteriorated sharply in 2012, with the government unwilling or unable to provide protection against attacks by extremists.

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