Priest shot dead, another injured in Peshawar

Published January 30, 2022
Christian devotees carry the coffin of a priest who was gunned down when driving back home after Sunday prayers in Peshawar on Jan 30. — AFP
Christian devotees carry the coffin of a priest who was gunned down when driving back home after Sunday prayers in Peshawar on Jan 30. — AFP
This image shows Padre William Siraj. — Photo provided by author
This image shows Padre William Siraj. — Photo provided by author

A priest was killed while another was injured after armed assailants opened fire on them in Peshawar on Sunday.

According to a police statement, the incident occurred near Ring Road within Gulbahar police station limits. The statement said a heavy police contingent had reached the scene and a search operation was underway.

"Evidence is being collected from the scene of the crime and CCTV cameras are also being checked," police said.

The statement added that the body had been shifted to the hospital for conducting an autopsy while further investigation was underway.

"William Siraj was a padre at a church within Chamkani police station limits," the statement said.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Lady Reading Hospital said that the injured priest was discharged after being provided medical treatment for minor injuries.

Speaking to the media at the scene of the crime, Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Abbas Ahsan said that the attack on the Christian community was tragic.

He added that according to initial reports, there were two attackers involved in the incident. "A comprehensive investigation has been launched," he said. CCPO Ahsan stated that members of the minority community were targeted, adding that it was a "terrorist act".

He said that in the past, police had identified the perpetrators of attacks targeting minorities and said that the same would also be done in this case. The officer said that officials were conducting geo-fencing and looking at other data.

"We are determined to protect minorities," the CCPO said, adding that a team consisting of officials from the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) and Peshawar police had been formed to probe the case.

Meanwhile, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan took notice of the incident and directed the IG to take necessary steps for arresting the culprits.

He also condemned the fact that religious leaders of the Christian community were targeted, adding that the perpetrators would not be able to escape the clutches of the law.

Khan offered his condolences to the Christian community and the family of the deceased. He also prayed for the swift recovery of the other padre injured in the incident.

The chief minister directed officials to provide the injured with the best possible medical treatment.

Speaking to the media, PTI MPA Wilson Wazir said that the deceased padre did not face any threats and was coming and going freely.

"Police are investigating the incident and will reach the perpetrators soon," he said. The MPA said that it would be premature to comment on the incident at this time, adding that he had full confidence in the police.

Meanwhile, PPP Senator Sherry Rehman strongly condemned the attacked.

"Terrorism that targets anyone, especially for their faith, is heinous and must be fought against with the full force of [a] clear, concerted policy and state power. No compromise, no equivocation," she said.

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