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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Roman Catholic Priest Shot Dead In Pakistan

A Roman catholic priest was shot and killed in eastern Pakistan early on Saturday, police said.

No one took immediate responsibility for the shooting death of Father George Ibrahim sometime after midnight in Ranala Kot, a small village about 300 km from Islamabad.

No arrests have been made. Gunmen broke into his home and shot him, police said.

Ibrahim had received several death threats, according to Shahbaz Bhatti, head of the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance. The threats appeared linked to a school that had been returned to the Roman Catholic Church by the province.

"He wanted to denationalise the school, which had been the property of the church and when he got it back he received threats saying 'you will pay a price for the school," Bhatti said in a telephone interview.

It was not known who made the threats, but Bhatti feared it was extremist Muslim groups, who have been blamed for previous attacks against Christians in Pakistan.

Bhatti said that Pakistan's minority Christian community has been targeted by extremist groups since the 2001 start of the US-led war on terror in Afghanistan because Christians here are associated with the United States, which is seen as a mostly Christian country.

The killing comes less than 24 hours after suicide attackers massacred 44 Shiite Muslims in a mosque in southwestern Baluchistan province. Three suicide attackers also died in the attack.

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