Security guards at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Lahore. (Image by ACN)

Churches across Pakistan have stepped up security in response to the threat of terrorist attacks following the Taliban’s return to power in neighbouring Afghanistan.

At a meeting of Catholic and Protestant leaders, senior clergy agreed to tighten surveillance and beef up armed protection, especially at Sunday services.

The move comes amid concerns that the Taliban’s take-over of Afghanistan will trigger extremist incidents aimed at Christian and other minority faith communities.

Pakistan human rights activist Sajid Christopher, chief executive of the Human Friends Organisation, said there were fears raised that Taliban-associated group Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other militant organisations would capitalise on events in Afghanistan and target religious minorities including Christians.

Speaking to ACN Mr Christopher said: “When the Taliban were in power before, there were a lot of terrorist attacks in Pakistan.

“Now the Taliban are back, it will strengthen the TTP and other Islamist groups and so there could be attacks.”

His comments come at a time of fear for the safety of what remains of Afghanistan’s Christian community, those unable to be part of last week’s mass evacuation of the most at-risk people, mainly non-indigenous groups.

Taliban fighters have allegedly gone house-to-house to track down Christians and other minorities and there were reports of people being ordered to hand over their phones with the threat of being killed on the spot if their devices were found to contain Bible verses or devotional material.

Read more here.
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