- (Photo: AP Images / Anupam Nath)
An Indian Christian group turned their attention to a northeast state that was devastated by a series of terror bombing this past week as violence against the minority Christian population continues to rage in the rest of the country.
Some 74 people were reported dead and more than 370 injured in a series of blasts in the remote Indian state of Assam as of Friday, according to CNN. Nine bombs had exploded nearly simultaneously in crowded areas in Assam on Thursday.
“There is no place for terror in civil society,” condemned Dr. Sam Paul, public affair national secretary of the All India Christian Council, in a statement. “Every Indian citizen must be united to [fight] terrorism in the country.”
A Baptist church as well as the pastor’s quarter located in Assam’s capital, Guwahati, were among the buildings damaged by the blasts.
“The front portion of the church building and half of the pastor’s quarter got burnt and pastor injured,” reported the Rev. M. Haokhothong, former treasurer of the Council of Baptist Churches in North East India.
He also reported that about 15 shops belonging to Guwahati Baptist Church were “gutted” in the bomb blast.
In response, angry residents of Guwahati burnt government and public properties and vehicles on the road.
AICC has urged the public in Guwahati and North Eastern states to maintain peace and calm and to cooperate with security forces to fight against terror.
The bomb blasts in Guwahati occurred against the backdrop of the anti-Christian campaign that has been ongoing for more than two months.
More than 50,000 Indian Christians have been displaced with some 30,000 of them living in relief camps, according to news reports. More than 4,000 Christian homes, churches and businesses have also been destroyed.
Last Tuesday, Father Bernard Digal, who was injured in late August by the anti-Christian violence in the eastern state of Orissa, died in Chennai, according to AICC. He is the first Roman Catholic priest killed by the violence.
According to Indian Catholic News Service, Digal was attacked on Aug. 24, when he was brutally beaten and left in a field overnight. He was subsequently taken to a local hospital then transferred to other hospitals for further treatment. He recovered and was released only to be recently admitted to the Chennai hospital where he died at age of 47.
At least six Protestant pastors have been killed in the riots, according to AICC. And more than 54 Christians have died in the violence.
Regarding the Assam bombings, a terror group calling itself “The Islamic Security Force (Indian Mujahideen)” claimed responsibility for the serial bombings on Friday, according to Indo-Asian News Service.
The group had sent a text message to a local television channel in Guwahati taking responsibility for the terror act. Police are investigating the source of the SMS message but refused to release details, citing security concerns. But police have detained more than 15 people for interrogation in connection with the bombings.
Last week’s terror blasts followed a similar one in September in New Delhi that killed more than 30 people, which the Indian Mujahedeen had also claimed responsibility.
Indian Mujahedeen also took responsibility for the 17 blasts in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad on July 26 that killed 49 people and injured more than 100 others.