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News 2015 � March

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The sacrifice of a Salesian Past Pupil saves the lives of many people in Lahore

By ANS - Rome
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Kolkata, Mar. 18. (ANS - Lahore) - The heroic guard who last Sunday in Lahore prevented a suicide attacker from the Jamaat ul Ahrar group from entering a crowded St John's Catholic Church was named Akash Bashir. Akash was a past pupil of the Salesian technical school located in the predominantly Christian neighbourhood of Yuhannabad. He caught hold of his assailant, using his body as a shield. Akash lost his life and saved the lives of many other people.
His identity was confirmed today 17 March as the story of what happened gradually became clear. Akash Bashir was standing together with another security guard at the door of the church, checking those who entered. The suicide bomber approached the entrance and tried violently to get past the two young guards. When Akash stopped him he noticed the explosives hidden under his jacket. Akash grabbed hold of the attacker and the lower part of his body was blown off in the explosion.

Thanks to his courageous action the death toll was much lower than was intended by the assailant.

Meanwhile the climate of violence and insecurity in the city has not lessened. Yesterday, after the funeral, some demonstrations degenerated into manifestations of violence, by groups of emotionally charged young people. Savage violence and vandalism in the streets were halted by special force soldiers of the so-called Rangers.

These violent demonstrations are now making the situation of Christians even more precarious. This morning, 17 March, a large group of armed Muslims, urged on by loudspeakers from the nearby mosques, entered the Christian village and occupied the main street.  The government military forces managed to stop them before they came into contact with the Christian group that had gathered on the opposite side.

The Salesian school will be closed until security can be guaranteed.  Today some young people cannot even return to their homes, because of continuing unrest and violence in the streets.

''As a Christian minority there are times when our only hope is in God and His Mother, Mary'' say the Salesians in Lahore.
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