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Gunmen Assassinate Christian Priest, Wound Another in Peshawar, Pakistan

Men carry the body of priest William Siraj, who, according to police, was killed by unknown armed men in Peshawar, Pakistan, Jan. 30, 2022.

Unknown gunmen have shot dead a Christian priest and wounded another in an attack in Pakistan’s northwestern city of Peshawar.

Police and local leaders of the minority community said the victims were leaving a city church following Sunday Mass when two men riding a motorcycle ambushed and opened fire on the priests’ vehicle.

Police identified the slain priest as Father William Siraj, who was 75.

Doctors said the wounded priest, Father Patrick Naeem, was being treated in a Peshawar hospital and described his condition as stable.

No one immediately took responsibility for the shooting.

Police officials said an operation to find and arrest the assailants was under way.

Christian leaders condemned the attack.

“We demand justice and protection of Christians from the Government of Pakistan,” tweeted educator and Bishop Azad Marshall, from the Church of Pakistan.

Members of the Christian community have previously been targeted in Peshawar.

The deadliest attack occurred in 2013 when two suicide bombers blew themselves up at a city church as hundreds of worshippers were leaving Sunday Mass. The assault killed at least 80 people and wounded 120 others.

Islamist militants in Pakistan have long made religious minorities, including Christians, one of their targets.

Christians represent about 2% of Pakistan’s population of around 220 million people, which is overwhelmingly Muslim.