Gone but not Forgotten – Pakistani Christian saved congregation from Islamist suicide bomber.
In March 2015 when a suicide bomber tried to run into St. John’s Catholic Church in Lahore, Akash Bashir, a 20-year-old security volunteer challenged the terrorist.
Akash Bashir lost his life but saved many.
Today’s Martyrs reported:
The Islamist group Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, an affiliate of the Pakistani Taliban, attacked two churches in Youhanabad, the poverty-ridden Lahore neighborhood which is the largest Christian ghetto in Pakistan, during Sunday services on March 15, 2015. Their tactics were simple: one team would attack Christ Church, while another would attack St. John’s Church a half mile away. Each team consisted of a man with an explosive vest who would gain entry to the church and self-detonate amongst the worshippers, while a supporting gunman with an automatic weapon eliminated any opposition. They knew that each church had a volunteer security team composed of parishioners. What they did not know was the depth of commitment these parishioners held for their churches.
The first terrorist team approached Christ Church during Communion. A 32 year old parishioner named Obaid Sardar Khokhar realized what was happening; he grabbed the suicide bomber and began to drag him away from the church. The accomplice shot him down. His 3 year old daughter Angelina saw him fall and began to run to his side. His pregnant wife Ambreen managed to restrain and save her daughter before she too was shot dead. Other parishioners wrestled with the bomber until he set off his vest. He had failed in his attempt to cause mass casualties within the church.
Within moments the second attack began at St. John’s Church. This bomber tried to pass through the gate into the churchyard and failed, so he began to scale the wall. Akash Bashir, a 19 year old volunteer security guard, grabbed him and tried to pull him down. The bomber showed Akash his vest, thinking that fear of death would cause him to let go, but he too failed. Akash refused to let go, pulled him down from the wall, and the attacker, realizing he would not gain entry to the church, then detonated his vest.
A total of 22 Christians and 6 Muslims were killed, including 2 Muslim policemen, and more than 80 were wounded. Had the killers gained entry to the churches the death toll could have reached into the hundreds. There were nearly 2,500 worshipers in the two buildings during the attacks.