PAKISTAN: 14-year-old Christian boy shot dead by Muslim gunmen

Sunil Masih (BACA)Sunil Masih (14) was shot dead on 5 February while standing outside a shop with other Christian boys in a market in the Mandiala Warraich area of Gujranwala, Punjab province.

Eyewitnesses reported that a group of six Muslim men armed with pistols arrived on motorbikes in the area around 5.30pm and opened fire on the Christian boys. “Kill all the Churas!” shouted one of the attackers, using a derogatory term commonly used against Christians in Pakistan.  Another attacker shot Sunil Masih, striking him on the left side of his chest just above his heart, causing him to collapse on the spot.  Another attacker fired at Jamshed Masih but the bullet just grazed the boy causing only minor injuries.

Sunil’s uncle Mehboob Gill said, The other attackers also opened fire on us with their weapons, but we managed to save ourselves by taking cover behind a wall. We rushed Sunil to a local hospital, but he succumbed to his bullet wound before doctors could begin their treatment.”

Four of the gunmen were known to the Christians but no arrests have yet been made. Local church pastor Asif Masih said, “The perpetrators were known for their consistent pattern of harassing and assaulting young Christian men in the community.”

Rev Numan Matto of the Gondalanwala Presbyterian Church in Gujranwala also said the murder was religiously motivated: “Sunil’s murderers are at large, and the audacity of their attack shows that they will not hesitate to strike again. The police will be responsible for any more loss of life of Christians if they do not take adequate security measures.”

George Masih – father of Sunil MasihSunil was the middle of three boys whose father George Masih (left of picture) works at a motor garage while his mother Gladys George is a housewife. The family lived in Mandiala Warraich for 35 years.

Attack on previous day

The British Asian Christian Association reported that on the day before Sunil was murdered, a group of Muslim men (including some of those involved in the murder of Sunil) had attempted to kidnap Sharoon Masih, a 15-year-old Christian boy, allegedly for sexual assault. When Sharoon resisted he was brutally beaten and left unconscious.  The attackers fired shots into the air to intimidate the community and deter any intervention.

Police were summoned and arrived promptly but could not find the attackers. Later that night, a group of Muslim men including a relative of the leader of the attack visited Sharoon’s home seeking forgiveness and reconciliation, which Sharoon’s family accepted.

May 2023 attack

Rev Numan Matto traced the trouble in the area back to an incident last year, explaining: “In May 2023, some Muslim youths disrupted a marriage ceremony of Christians and also attacked a church. However, police and the district administration did not take any action against the influential accused, despite several protests by the Christian community. If the police had taken stern action against the accused involved in the attack on the church last year, our young child would not have died at the hands of these criminals.”

Between 400 and 450 Christians have lived in the area peaceably for decades, but recently the environment has turned hostile toward religious minorities.

(Christian Daily International–Morning Star News, British Asian Christian Association, Pakistan Christian News)

Image Credits: British Asian Christian Association