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Thousands mourn Pakistan charity victims

Staff and wires

Members of Benjamin Talib mourn his death at his funeral in Karachi on Saturday
Members of Benjamin Talib mourn his death at his funeral in Karachi on Saturday

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CNN's Ash-har Quraishi reports on the attack on a Christian center in Pakistan.
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KARACHI, Pakistan -- Thousands of distraught and angry mourners have attended the funeral service of one of seven Christian Pakistani charity workers massacred by gunmen in the southern port city of Karachi.

John Monezes, along with six colleagues, was roped to a chair in his offices and shot in the head on Wednesday.

The assault, in the offices of the Organization for Peace and Justice -- known in Pakistan as Adara Aman-o-Insaf -- is the sixth this year targeting Westerners and Christians.

More than 2,000 friends and sympathizers gathered around the church Sunday, and security for the somber occasion was tight, Reuters reported.

Banners outside the church urged the government to do more to prevent violence against minority faiths in the overwhelmingly Muslim country, and to bring those responsible for Wednesday's atrocity to justice.

Christians make up a small minority in Pakistan, where about 97 percent of the population is Muslim.

John Allah Ditta, a social worker and a Christian, said an act of terrorism against Christians was one against humanity.

"Everyone in our community is feeling that we are the victims of terrorism, but I think this is an act of terrorism against humanity. We want justice from the government," he told Reuters as he entered the church.

There was a heavy police presence around the building, and paramilitary Rangers were also seen patrolling streets surrounding the church.

At least four of the seven people killed in the attack are expected to be buried on Sunday. One of Monezes' colleagues, Benjamin Talib, was buried in Karachi on Saturday.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has condemned the killings, calling them "an act of wanton terrorism."

Pakistani authorities say India's intelligence agency may have been behind the shootings, a charge India rejected.

The attack has devastated Pakistan's small Christian community
The attack has devastated Pakistan's small Christian community

"The involvement of RAW (Indian intelligence) cannot be ruled out," Interior Minister Moinuddin Haider told reporters in Islamabad on Saturday, although he admitted investigations had made any headway.

Wednesday's attack came a day after police began stripping signs identifying churches in private homes and placing sandbags outside Christian sites after finding evidence that militants were planning to blow up at least two other churches in Karachi.

They found maps of two churches and a Christian school, along with weapons and explosives, when they arrested two suspected Islamic militants in Karachi.

Since President Pervez Musharraf began supporting the U.S. anti-terror campaign last year, and reigning in some of the country's Muslim extremists, violent raids on Christian sites have killed 30 people and wounded about 100.

While Islamabad says these attacks have prompted them to beef up security, some Christians say authorities in the predominately Muslim country want to diminish the visibility of non-Muslims.

There has been no visible attempt to remove crosses or disguise larger Christian buildings.



Reuters contributed to this report.


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