Catholic Girls' School Bombed in Pakistan

A Catholic-run girls' school in North-West Frontier Province was bombed Tuesday by Pakistani Taliban.

The Convent Girls' School was bombed by local Taliban and the school building was destroyed, according to the Catholic Church's National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP).

No one was killed or hurt because the school, run by Sri Lankan Apostolic Carmelite Sisters, was closed at the time due to threats. The sisters had also vacated the convent.

"We have very grave and deep concerns about the current instability and violence in Pakistan," said Alexa Papadouris, advocacy director at U.K.-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide, in a statement Wednesday. "We wish to offer our sincere condolences to the victims of terrorism."

In the past two years, more than 150 girls' schools have been attacked in the North-West Frontier Province by Pakistani Taliban, the NCJP claims.

Bomb threats are also regularly occurring in Pakistan's major cities, including Islamabad and Lahore. On Tuesday, three bombs were detonated among fruit juice shops in a shopping area in Ghari Shau, Lahore.

CSW's sources in Pakistan describe the general situation as on the verge of becoming "a war zone."

"These are absolutely senseless attacks aimed simply at spreading fear and terror into the hearts and minds of people," said Group Captain (Rtd) Cecil Chaudhry, executive secretary of the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance. "The victims are ordinary people, many from poor backgrounds. We appeal to the international community for support for the people of Pakistan at this time."

Muslims make up about 97 percent of Pakistan's population, while Hindus make up 1.5 percent, and Christians, 1.7 percent.

With the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in Pakistan, which is nearby Afghanistan, Jammu and Kashmir, the plights of Christians have only increased and the freedom of religious minorities has steadily been attacked.

Last September, a group of Islamic militants in North West Frontier and Punjab provinces threatened Christians "to either convert to Islam, leave the country or face death."

"We call on the international community to take the crisis in Pakistan extremely seriously, and to work with the new Government of Pakistan to bring an end to terrorism in the country," Papadouris urged.