Release by: Elias Bejjani: The Utmost Need for Eradication of Global Terrorism
John 12:24: "Most certainly I tell
you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself
alone. But if it dies, it bears much fruit."
We, Strongly condemn the hatred and violence behind a twin horrible and savage suicide bombing at a church in northwest Pakistan that left on Sunday over 80 people dead and many others injured mostly children and women in what is believed to be the country's deadliest attack on Christians.
This oppressive and terrorist path is not the right one because it leads nowhere, and clearly shows that the Pakistani Government has failed to safeguard its own Christian citizens that make 3% of its population.
We call on the Pakistani authorities to bring those who are responsible for this horrible crime to justice and to protect those who seek to worship in peace, free from fear and intimidation.
It is worth mentioning that all minorities in Pakistan including the Christians are unjustly treated as second class citizens and deprived from most of their basic human rights.
Meanwhile we also condemn the terrorist and cowardice assault that hit yesterday a mall in Nairobi/Kenya killing and injuring many innocent individuals including two Canadian citizens. We believe that this senseless act of violence is a mere terrorism act that needs to be dealt with accordingly.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and colleagues of all the victims in both attacks.
On behalf of all those in our Canadian-Lebanese community who share our LCCC (Lebanese Canadian Coordination Council) peace mission, aims and goals, we send our thoughts and prayers to those affected by yesterday's heinous violence in Pakistan and Kenya and wish the injured quick recovery.
Canadian-Lebanese Human Rights activist, journalist and political commentator
Web sites http://www.10452lccc.com & http://www.clhrf.com
Mailing phoenicia group http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Phoenicia/
attack church in northwest Pakistan, kill 78 people
By Riaz Khan And Sebastian Abbot, The Associated Press | The Canadian Press – PESHAWAR, Pakistan - A pair of suicide bombers blew themselves up amid hundreds of worshippers at a historic church in northwestern Pakistan on Sunday, killing 78 people in the deadliest-ever attack against the country's Christian minority. A wing of the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing, raising new questions about the government's push to strike a peace deal with the militants to end a decade-long insurgency that has killed thousands of people. The Jundullah arm of the Taliban said they would continue to target non-Muslims until the United States stopped drone attacks in Pakistan's remote tribal region. The latest drone strike came Sunday, when missiles hit a pair of compounds in the North Waziristan tribal area, killing six suspected militants.
The attack on the All Saints Church, which wounded 141 people, occurred as worshippers were leaving after services to get a free meal of rice offered on the front lawn, said a top government administrator, Sahibzada Anees.
"There were blasts and there was hell for all of us," said Nazir John, who was at the church in the city's Kohati Gate district along with at least 400 other worshippers. "When I got my senses back, I found nothing but smoke, dust, blood and screaming people. I saw severed body parts and blood all around." Survivors wailed and hugged one another in the wake of the blasts. The white walls of the church, which first opened in the late 1800s, were pockmarked with holes caused by ball bearings contained in the bombs to cause maximum damage. Blood stained the floor and the walls. Plates filled with rice were scattered across the ground.
The attack was carried out by two suicide bombers who detonated their explosives almost simultaneously, said police officer Shafqat Malik. The 78 dead included 34 women and seven children, said Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan. Another 37 children were among the 141 wounded, he said.The number of casualties from the blasts was so high that the hospital ran short of caskets for the dead and beds for the wounded, said Mian Iftikhar Hussain, a former information minister of surrounding Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province who was on the scene. "This is the deadliest attack against Christians in our country," said Irfan Jamil, the bishop of the eastern city of Lahore. Pope Francis led several thousand people in a prayer for the victims while on a visit to Sardinia. Those who carried out the attack, he said, "took the wrong choice, one of hatred and war."
One of the wounded, John Tariq, who lost his father in the attack, demanded of those behind the bombing: "What have we done wrong to these people? Why are we being killed?" Ahmad Marwat, who identified himself as the spokesman for the Jundullah wing of the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack. "All non-Muslims in Pakistan are our target, and they will remain our target as long as America fails to stop drone strikes in our country," Marwat told The Associated Press by telephone from an undisclosed location.
Jundullah has previously claimed responsibility for attacks on minority Shiite Muslims in southwestern Baluchistan province. Hard-line Sunni extremists like the Taliban consider Shiites to be heretics.
The bishop in Peshawar, Sarfarz Hemphray, announced a three-day mourning period and blamed the government and security agencies for failing to protect the country's Christians.
"If the government shows will, it can control this terrorism," said Hemphray. "We have been asking authorities to enhance security, but they haven't paid any heed."
Hundreds of Christians burned tires in the street in the southern city of Karachi to protest the bombing. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the attack in a statement sent to reporters, saying, "The terrorists have no religion and targeting innocent people is against the teachings of Islam and all religions." "Such cruel acts of terrorism reflect the brutality and inhumane mindset of the terrorists," he said.
Islamic militants have carried out dozens of attacks across the country since Sharif took office in June, even though he has made clear that he believes a peace deal with the Pakistani Taliban is the best way to tamp down violence in the country. Pakistan's major political parties endorsed Sharif's call for negotiations earlier this month. But the Taliban have said the government must release militant prisoners and begin pulling troops out of the northwest tribal region that serves as their sanctuary before they will begin talks. There are many critics of peace talks who point out that past deals with the Taliban have fallen apart and simply given the militants time to regroup.
"I don't think appeasement will work," said Farhatullah Babar, a senior leader of the main opposition group, the Pakistan People's Party. "This is a message from them that they don't believe in negotiations. If they don't, we should also stand up and fight them." Supporters of negotiations say they are the only way forward since military operations against the Taliban in the tribal region have failed to subdue them.
Sharif defended the government's decision to push for peace talks but acknowledged the effort didn't seem to be working. "It was not a bad thing, I think, to do a good job with a good intention," Sharif told reporters outside the Pakistan High Commission in London. "But the regret is that the thinking, the desire the government had, is not capable to make progress."The U.S. has repeatedly demanded that Pakistan take stronger action against Islamic militants, especially members of the Afghan Taliban who use the country as a base for cross-border attacks on American troops in Afghanistan. The U.S. has carried out several hundred drone attacks against Taliban militants and their allies in Pakistan's tribal region. The strike on Sunday took place in the Shawal area of North Waziristan, the main sanctuary for militants in the country, said Pakistani intelligence officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.Pakistani officials regularly decry drone attacks as a violation of the country's sovereignty, but the government is known to have secretly supported some of the strikes in the past, especially ones that have targeted Pakistani Taliban militants at war with the state. The Pakistani and Afghan Taliban are allies, but have focused their fight on opposite sides of the border.
Abbot reported from Islamabad. Associated Press writers Zarar Khan and Asif Shahzad in Islamabad, Rasool Dawar in Peshawar and Ishtiaq Mahsud in Dera Ismail Khan contributed to this report.
Kenyan forces rescue ‘most’ hostages
September 23, 2013/Agencies
NAIROBI: Kenya’s military said late Sunday it had rescued “most” of the remaining hostages held by Al-Qaeda-linked militants in an upscale Nairobi mall after launching a major operation to end a two-day standoff that had already killed 68 people.
The assault, which began shortly before sundown, came as two helicopters circled the mall, with one skimming very close to the roof. A loud explosion rang out, far larger than any previous grenade blast or gunfire volley.
Kenyan police said on Twitter that a “MAJOR” assault by security forces was ongoing to end the two-day siege.
“This will end tonight. Our forces will prevail. Kenyans are standing firm against aggression, and we will win,” Kenya’s Disaster Operations Center said on Twitter.Kenya Defense Forces later said it had rescued most hostages and had taken control of most of the mall. Officials did not immediately release the number of hostages rescued or the number that remained. Four Kenyan military personnel were wounded in the operation, the military said.The assault came about 30 hours after 10 to 15 Al-Shabab extremists stormed the mall Saturday from two sides, throwing grenades and firing on civilians.
Loud exchanges of gunfire emanated from inside the four-story upscale mall throughout Sunday. Kenyan troops were seen carrying in at least two rocket propelled grenades.
Al-Shabab militants reacted angrily to the helicopters on Twitter and warned that the Kenyan military action was endangering hostages.
Kenyan officials said they would do their utmost to save hostages’ lives, but no officials could say how many hostages were inside. Kenya’s Red Cross said in a statement citing police that 49 people had been reported missing.
Kenya’s Red Cross said the death toll Sunday rose to 68 after nine bodies were recovered in a joint rescue mission.
A United States State Department spokeswoman condemned the “despicable massacre of innocent men, women and children.” U.S. law enforcement, military and civilian personnel in Nairobi were providing assistance as requested by Kenya, spokeswoman Marie Harf said.
Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-linked rebel group, Al-Shabab, claimed responsibility for the attack that specifically targeted non-Muslims. The attackers included some women. The Islamist extremist rebels said the attack was retribution for Kenyan forces’ 2011 push into neighboring Somalia.
Al-Shabab said on its new Twitter feed – after its previous one was shut down Saturday – that Kenyan officials were asking the hostage-takers to negotiate and offering incentives.
“We’ll not negotiate with the Kenyan govt as long as its forces are invading our country, so reap the bitter fruits of your harvest,” Al-Shabab said in a tweet.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta reiterated his government’s determination to continue fighting Al-Shabab.
“We went as a nation into Somalia to help stabilize the country and most importantly to fight terror that had been unleashed on Kenya and the world,” Kenyatta said. “We shall not relent on the war on terror.”
He said although this violent attack had succeeded, the Kenyan security forces had “neutralized” many others. Earlier in the day Kenyatta said he his nephew and his nephew’s fiancee were killed in the attack.
Former Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga told reporters at the mall that “quite a number” of people were being held hostage in two locations of the mall, which includes stores for Nike, Adidas and Bose. Many hostages were believed to be in a grocery and general department store called Nakumatt. Kenyan security officials sought to reassure the families of hostages but implied that hostages could be killed. The security operation is “delicate” because Kenyan forces hoped to ensure the hostages are evacuated safely, said Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Lenku.
“The priority is to save as many lives as possible,” Lenku said, adding that more than 1,000 people escaped the attack inside the mall on Saturday.
“We have received a lot of messages from friendly countries, but for now it remains our operation,” Lenku said.
More than 175 people were injured in the attack, Lenku said, including many children. Kenyan forces were by Sunday in control of the mall’s security cameras, he said.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, confirming three Britons were dead, said: “We should prepare ourselves for further bad news.”
U.S. President Barack Obama called Kenyatta to offer condolences and support.
Westgate Mall is at least partially owned by Israelis, and reports circulated that Israeli commandos were on the ground to assist in the response. Four restaurants inside the mall are Israeli-run or owned.
In Israel, a senior defense official said there were no Israeli forces participating in an assault. But an Israeli security source told