A Catholic church was desecrated and a guard was attacked in the town of Okara in Pakistan on January 23.
A report on AsiaNews said four men tied up the church’s guard before desecrating the building.
“They threw the Holy Eucharist out of the tabernacle and scattered and dishonored the sacred books,” AsiaNews quoted Younus Masih Gill, a member of the church of San Camillo de Lellis.
He said a group of armed men kidnapped and bound the sacristan and destroyed the church.
“People do not feel safe after the affair, which has disturbed the peace of the community,” he said.
Allahditta Masih, the church’s guard, said he was inside the church when “four armed men stood in front of the gate and asked me to leave, otherwise they would have shot me.”
He said he was tied with ropes, was beaten, and then was locked inside.
Parish priest Khalil Maqsood and Father Khalid Rasheed Asi, director of the National Commission for Justice and Peace of the Catholic Church, have already filed a report to the police.
The priests urged the faithful to remain calm, saying “the culprits wanted to generate panic.”
“We must remain calm and continue to pray so that no one can damage our union,” said Father Asi.
Churches across Pakistan have stepped up security since last year in response to threats of attacks following the Taliban’s return to power in neighboring Afghanistan.
Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) reported that the move came amid concerns that the Taliban’s take-over of Afghanistan will trigger extremist incidents aimed at Christian and other minority faith communities.
The ACN report said tightened protection measures include increased action to check the identity of people entering church compounds by car, metal detectors used as people go in for services, and a beefed-up armed presence at church entrances.