A suicide bombing killed 72 people and injured 341 in the Pakistan city of Lahore, the capital of Punjab Province. The terrorist bomb was aimed at Christians who were gathering to celebrate Easter on Sunday evening.
A splinter group of the Pakistani Taliban, Jamat-ul-Ahrar, claimed responsibility for the attacks. Most of those killed and injured were women and children. Although the bombing specifically targeted Christians, many of those killed and injured were Muslims. The Christian group found that even when meeting in a crowded amusement park with Muslims all around them, they were not safe.
The same Islamic terrorist group has carried out other bombing attacks previously, and it has vowed that more attacks on Christians are coming. The government has been arresting hundreds of suspects in an attempt to discover those who are responsible. Attacks, including church and hospital bomb blasts and mob attacks on Christian villages, have increased in recent years.
The Wesleyan Church has a significant ministry presence in Pakistan. Fifty Wesleyan churches are in Pakistan, with approximately 25,000 constituents in various cities and villages. A total of eight Wesleyan schools are in Pakistan with 900 students. According to the national superintendent, no Wesleyan pastors or members were killed in this attack.
It is challenging for minority Christians and Hindus in Pakistan, not only because of terrorist attacks, but also due to a threatening legal climate. Pakistan is 96% Muslim, 2% Hindu, and 1.6% Christian. Most of the Christians are in Punjab, the largest province by population. Punjab enforces Islamic blasphemy laws which carry severe penalties including death sentences.
Wesleyans are urged to pray for all Christians being targeted by persecution in Pakistan.