By Santosh Digal, BosNewsLife Asia Correspondent
BAMUNIGAM/MANILA (BosNewsLife)-- Several people were injured when a Hindu mob attacked a Christmas worship service in India’s religiously volatile eastern state of Orissa Monday, December 24, destroying a crib as well as light and sound equipment, Christians told BosNewsLife.
The incident happened in the area of Bamunigam, about 336 kilometers (210 miles) from Orissa’s capital Bhubaneswar, witnesses told BosNewsLife.
"Today a Hindu mob of around 500 people came and attacked the Christians" gathering in a make-shift tent, "and destroyed the crib [used for a Christmas story] as well equipment," said Praful Nayak. “They have injured people with guns and attacked others with swords. They also used deadly weapons instruments," he said.
At least two people were believed to have received gunshot wounds, while an unknown number of other Christians were beaten with other weapons, several churches sources said. Their condition was not immediately known.
"Two people have received gun injuries and many were sustained physical injuries…More [Hindus] came with local vans to maybe more damage. Christian people remain under threat and fear," said Priest Prodosh Nayak of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar area, who was involved in the Christmas worship service
Christians of several denominations, including Catholic, Baptist and Pentecostal churches, had reportedly obtained permission from local authorities for a united Christmas celebration in the service in the mega-tent, and also decorated the small town with Christmas lights, said Priest Rabindra Sabhasundar.
Police and other authorities had promised to send the security forces but police were absent during the attack, witnesses said. “I am afraid of another attack,” said Prasan Sualsingh the headmistress of the local Prabhatitara Convent/Girls’ High School.
Church authorities "have been alarmed by the incident and they have reported to the police investigate to the matter and provide safety and security of people," said Priest Dibakar Parichha, public relations officer of the diocese involved in organizing Monday’s event.
Church leaders say Orissa state has a record of anti-Christian attacks carried out by Hundu militants different parts of the state since the late 1990s. In one of the most bloodiest known incidents, in January 1999 Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons Philip, 10, and Timothy, eight, were burnt to death by another mob of Hindu militants in Orissa.
The crowd accused him of forcibly converting poor Hindus to Christianity. Christians are a minority in Orissa and in other states of India, a predominantly Hindu nation. There have been at least 500 known serious attacks against Christians and Christian institutions within the last two years across India, said the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) in a recent report.
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