A violent mob amid escalating pre-Christmas tensions in Pakistan attacked a church on 19th December, 2017, night in Sambrial Town of Sialkot district in Punjab province. More than 50 armed men stormed St. Paul’s Catholic Church and the perpetrators fired shots into the air and entered the Church compound, pulling off its plaque and damaging a window. According to Fr. Victor Sawera, parish priest of the church has filed a complaint with police and he claims that the mob was led by Asadullah Randhawa from the purportedly centrist Tehreek-eInsaf political party of retired Pakistani Muslim cricketer Imran Khan.
As reported by ucanindia.in, Fr. Sawera remarked that “Some Protestant pastors were trying to apply political pressure to be able to use Catholic premises for small religious gatherings.” Church security volunteers in Punjab province have been urged to keep licensed firearms at hand during Christmas services.
According to media reports, 16 churches have been attacked by terrorists and violent mobs in Punjab Province since 1997. The Christian chairman of Rwadari Tehreek (a social interfaith movement), Samson Salamat and the Muslim Vice Chairman, Deedar Ahmed Mirani, called for specific measures to combat the financing of terrorist organizations.