By Dan Wooding, Founder of ASSIST News Service
PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN (ANS – September 6, 2016) — Samuel Sardar Masih, a 50-year-old Pakistani Christian who was killed on Friday (September 2, 2016), after an early morning attack on a small village where he lived with his family called “Christian Colony” near the north-western Pakistani city of Peshawar, has been laid to rest by his family.
The Church of Pakistan’s Diocese of Peshawar released a statement, calling Masih a “brave man – indeed a hero and a martyr, who saved many lives.”
The body of the slain Christian, received full military honors on Saturday for the manner in which he sacrificed his own life to save others, and was wrapped in a Pakistani flag.
“The family were not able to see the body because it was said to be in an extremely deteriorated state,” said a spokesperson for the British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA), who had sent a representative to report on the scene.
The bomb attack was carried out by the Pakistani Taliban splinter group, Jamaat-ur-Ahrar, and took place in the early hours of last Friday morning in the small village, and Christian worker Samuel Sardar Masih, was the first casualty.
According to the BPCA, Mr. Masih had called for a security officer to open the gates to the community village at 5:30 am. Then, as he walked to work, he spotted the terrorists and instead of seeking safety, he called the security officers protecting the colony, and warned them of the impending attack.
“He then ran back to alert the community and protect his family from the danger,” said the BPCA spokesperson. “He made it back to the gates where he shouted for help, but by doing so, made himself a target. There, he was shot dead with several bullets by all four of the Muslim assassins, and was then hacked to pieces, so his body was unrecognizable.
“One of the security officers, Mr. Khud Ali, had received the call from Samuel, to warn him of the impending attack. He was able to take shelter in a security cabin. Taking advice from Samuel, he also contacted the military liaison to seek help and assistance.
“From the cabin, he engaged in gun fire with the four terrorists who had by now, just tried to enter the colony, and his colleague, Najeeb, also joined in the gun exchange. Together they managed to pin them down at the entrance, thus protecting the Christian civilians, until support arrived from the military.”
Mr. Khud Ali told the BPCA lead reporter, Shamim Masih, who arrived at the scene within hours of the news, “The attackers were wearing suicide vests and carrying semi-automatic firearms. It was frightening, but I had a job to do. I alerted the local military forces of the attack and they responded in minutes. They provided support during a gunfire exchange.
“Army helicopters also arrived and the collaborative effort made it extremely difficult for the suicide assassins to get anywhere near the Christian community. We held the killers at bay and two police officers were injured and also my colleague Najeeb, but somehow we prevented any further casualties.”
Three of the attackers were forced into a construction site where they were eventually found dead.
“Reports vary saying the bombers were killed by gunfire from Pakistani Security forces, however the dismembered body parts of the killers seem to tell a different story in which the attackers triggered their suicide vests to explode,” said the BPCA spokesperson.
Shamim Masih said that when he arrived, he found a community that was completely traumatized and threatened by the incident.
“The initial story that was released in the community was that Samuel Sardar Masih had helped the security forces in the gun attack against the killers,” added the BPCA spokesperson. “However, the family tell us that military commanders did not want to share the truth about the death of Samuel, for fear that it would create a panic amongst the terrified and hysterical Christians.”
Journalist Shamim Masih met with the family of the slain Christian and found them “distraught at the loss of their patriarch.”
The eldest son, Waqar spoke with Shamim Masih and described his heartache, saying, “My innocent father has been killed simply for his faith. Today he is a martyr and he is with God. The men that murdered him will suffer in hell, but that will not bring my father back. I miss my father already. During his whole life, he has suffered for us and I will never get the chance to repay him. Why do Muslim’s hate us Christians so much as we have done nothing to hurt them?”
The area of the attack is close to Warsak Dam, in the Khyber Tribal Region, more than 12 miles away from Peshawar city, and around 120 Christian families live in the community. Most of them are workers for the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA). Samuel had moved to the area from Peshawar in the 1950’s to seek employment. Mr. Masih leaves behind a wife Razia (43 years), two sons Waqar (22 years) and Shaharyar, (18 years) and three daughters Kiran (30 years), Anna (19 years), and Samra (12 years).
Razia Bibi, widow of Samuel said: “My husband worked at Peshawar Development Authority (PDA) and always left early in the morning for his job. After he left our home on Friday, I heard all the shooting and feared the worst. I locked all the doors and windows to my house and gathered my family into the living room we prayed for our safety and that of Samuel. When I heard he was dead my heart collapsed. I will mourn him for the rest of my life.”
Khud Ali explained that, after the attack, there was still great fear in the community. “Once the gun attack was over, we joined the military and police forces in a search operation throughout the colony,” he said. “After some hours the search was terminated and no other attackers were found. However, the residents living here are now in a real state of hysteria. I don’t blame them they were fortunate this time. The early warning by Samuel saved everyone.”
One suicide bomber blew himself up in the house of Farrukh Masih. Farrukh and his family heard the deep resonating Islamic prayers of the bomber and exited via the back of their house, when the incendiary device was set off. The family all escaped unharmed but in deep shock. Little remains of Farrukh’s house.
Farrukh and his family have asked for assistance with restoring their home, and help with temporary accommodation. If you would like to contribute, please go to: https://britishpakistanichristians.worldsecuresystems.com/donate.
Shamim Masih told ANS: “It is alarming that, to create instability in Pakistan once again, a Christian colony is being attacked by extremists. Jamaat-ur-Ahrar is a group who seek full sharia law in Pakistan and hate Christians with a great passion. They wish to annihilate us as we are allegedly ritually impure and in their minds defile the nation of Pakistan.
“There is no safe haven for Christians in Pakistan and this small success by Pakistani security forces should not be mistaken as a watershed moment. Without the bravery of Samuel Sardar Masih, many would have died and the military would have simply been clearing up the mess. The Christians of the colony owe him a great debt, and just as much is owed to the military. Sadly, his sacrifice will be forgotten, meanwhile his family mourn the loss of their patriarch, a pain that will remain for a long time.”
Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the UK-based BPCA, told the ASSIST News Service, “Every attack on a Christian community is an attack on the initial vision of Muhammed Ali Jinnah the founder of Pakistan. This is not the Pakistan he wanted, nor many of the early forefathers of the nation, but extremist have been allowed to hijack the country. Moral decline has created an intolerant nation in which the social divide is perpetuated to maintain the wealth of the elite. Laws do not create a fairer society it is the hearts and minds of people and on that basis Pakistan has little hope.”
He added: “On a recent radio interview, it was suggested that the targeted attacks on the legal fraternity in Pakistan, may be a consequence of the challenge for equal rights for minorities through the judicial process. This is far from the truth, few if any of the judiciary support reforms towards minority equality. These attacks are simply an opportunity to create instability and thwart democracy. They are also revenge for the terrorists prosecuted for attacks on the Military school in Peshawar in 2014 and the hanging of Mumtaz Qadri who was deemed an Islamic hero.
“Sadly no convictions have been made for acts of terrorism occurred after the Peshawar twin Church bomb attack of 2013, or the attack on a Christian community in Gojra in 2009. Quite simply killing a Christian still has a significant chance for impunity, so we can only expect more Christian deaths to such violence.”
The family of Samuel Sardar Masih have also asked for help with the cost of the funeral. If you would like to contribute a gift, please go to https://britishpakistanichristians.worldsecuresystems.com/donate.
Photo captions: 1) Family and friends gather at the funeral of Christian martyr, Samuel Sardar Masih. (BPCA) 2) Members of the Jamaat-ur-Ahrar terror group. 3) Eye-witness speaking with BPCA lead journalist, Shamim Masih. (BPCA). 4) Farrukh Masih by what remains of his house. 5) Villagers examining the damage. 6) Dan Wooding with his BPCA award.
About the writer: Dan Wooding, 75, is an award-winning winning author, broadcaster and journalist who was born in Nigeria, West Africa, of British missionary parents, Alfred and Anne Wooding, who then worked with the Sudan Interior Mission, now known as SIM. He now lives in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for some 53 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. Dan is the founder/president of the ASSIST News Service (ANS), and is also the author of some 45 books. He has been given a special award by the British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA) for his many years of reporting on the persecution of Christians in Pakistan.
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