Pakistan gunmen kill Christian priest on way home from Mass

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — Gunmen killed one Christian priest and wounded another as they were driving home from Sunday Mass in Pakistan’s northwestern city of Peshawar, police said.

Father William Siraj, 75, was shot multiple times and died instantly in the ambush in the Gulbahar neighborhood, while Father Naeem Patrick was treated briefly in hospital for a gunshot wound to the hand, officer Iqbal Shah said. A third priest in the car was unharmed.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, the latest on Pakistan’s tiny Christian minority that has been targeted several times by militants in recent years. Militant violence has been a broader increase since the Pakistani Taliban ended a ceasefire with the government last month.

A memorial service for Father Siraj will be held on Monday at Peshawar’s All Saint’s Church, which was brutally attacked by militants with bombs and gunfire in 2013. Over 70 worshippers were killed and 100 wounded.

Police said they were reviewing CCTV footage to locate the attackers, who witnesses said escaped on motorcycles.

Chief Minister Mahmood Shah of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province condemned the attack, urging police to find the culprits as soon as possible. Bishop Humphrey Peters also condemned the killing, saying it aimed to harm interfaith harmony.

Also Sunday, a bomb planted in a parked motorcycle exploded in the southwestern Baluchistan province, wounding 16 passersby, police said. No one immediately claimed responsibility.