Two Christian school girls were killed in Swat, Pakistan by a policeman

Two schoolgirls, including a 9-year-old girl, were killed on May 16, and five others were injured by a policeman who opened fire on a Catholic Missionary School in Pakistan.

The school, run by the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin in Sangota, in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, was targeted around 2 p.m. when students were preparing to leave school in a van. “I panicked after seeing blood on my daughter’s foot. The vehicle was parked inside the school when the shooting began,” one parent said.

Shaken and angry parents blocked the road outside the school immediately after the shooting. Alam Khan, a police officer sent to Sangota Public School in February to ensure security, was arrested as part of the ongoing investigation.

“He is a murderer, arrested with the weapon of offense. I promise parents that we will respect the standards of justice. Our hearts are sad,” Shafiullah Gandapur, a Swat District Police Officer (DPO), told the media.

“The DPO’s initial statement to the school management was that the officer ‘was mentally ill’ and suspended ‘twice for violent behavior,'” the Archbishop of Islamabad-Rawalpindi told local media. Joseph Arshad. “We demand a punishment for the agent to avoid similar tragedies in the future,” added Mgr. Arshad, also invited 448 Church-run educational institutions to hold a day of prayer in solidarity with the Sangota Public School.

The World Commission for Human Development has urged the government to act. “Religious minorities are heartbroken. We feel threatened and insecure in the face of growing terrorism in the country, in the grip of economic and political turmoil. We pray for the souls of the deceased and for the healing of survivors, targeted while they were there only to receive an education,” said James Rehmat, Executive Director.

The Catholic school, popularly called Sangota Public School, is renowned for imparting quality education in the Malakand region of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where thousands of people were killed during the U.S.-led War on Terror with the support of Pakistan’s army against the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan. Angered by Pakistan’s cooperation with the United States, the Pakistani Taliban, also known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP, was officially established in 2007, when several outlawed groups decided to work together against Pakistan. The TTP has historical ties to the Taliban in Afghanistan.

In 2008, it was the Taliban who bombed Sangota Public School for providing English education to girls, accusing the nuns of converting young Muslim girls to Christianity. The school was reopened in 2012 after the Pakistani army rebuilt the institute, located on a hill.

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