Suspects in Murree Christian School attack reportedly confess, then commit suicide when trapped
"This is just a beginning of revenge [for] atrocities U.S. (is) committing in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kashmir, and Palestine, and we will continue attacking," said a note left by the men who attacked Murree Christian School Monday, killing six Pakistanis.

If it happens, it won't come from the three men who carried out the attack—they killed themselves on the bank of Jhelum River, near the town of Khapadar, about 25 miles from the school.

"Alarmed in the wake of Monday's terrorist attack in their neighboring area, residents of the village asked the suspects to identify themselves," reports the Pakistan newspaper Dawn. "But, they added, instead of doing so, the suspects ran towards the river and went several feet inside the water where they positioned themselves on a rock. … The suspects, speaking Urdu, had earlier been asking the villagers to let them go towards Muzaffarabad. But as the police arrived, they got panicky and suddenly took out hand-grenades from their pockets and blew themselves up."

Other news outlets offer more details. The New York Times quotes deputy police inspector Tariq Qayuum. According to the inspector, as one of the suspects took out the grenade, he said, "If you don't let us go, not only we will die but we will take your lives as well."

The Associated Press, meanwhile, quotes regional police commander Moravet Shah, who suggests the suspects were somewhat less threatening—and says they confessed to the attack on the school. "We have no enmity with Muslims," Shah quotes them as saying. "Our targets are only Americans and nonbelievers." (One wonders if anyone told them that among the six dead after the attack, four were Muslims.)

The attackers, who called themselves Al-Intiqami Al-Pakistani (Revenge of the People of Pakistan—though The New York Times says "it was unclear whether the reference was the proper name of a previously unknown group, or simply a statement about revenge on behalf of Pakistanis"), said "there are other groups who plan to carry out similar attacks on Americans and you will soon hear about it," according to Shah.

Some time apparently passed between the arrival of the police and the suicides. The suspects, said to be in their 20s or 30s, had time to huddle together on the rock, then place the grenades under their feet. It was a shrewd move: the grenades sent the three men flying into the air—two men disappeared into the Jhelum and weren't seen again despite a major search. A third landed on the riverbank, and police used his body to identify him as one of the school attackers.

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Meanwhile, Murree Christian School principal Russell Morton says the school will reopen in two weeks with new security measures. (At least that's what he apparently told his hometown paper, The Mercury of Tasmania. A school press release says they're still deciding.) "A permanent closure would drastically affect many missionary families from around the country who would have few alternatives for their children's education, perhaps none," he told the paper, also noting that the school is critical for the local economy.

Morton also explains the latest thinking on why the attack happened: "The given wisdom is that it was politically motivated, an attempt to further embarrass the Government by encouraging Westerners to leave."

Since the school is for missionary children from around the world, papers everywhere are offering interviews and details. The New Zealand Herald, for example, reports that many children were scheduled to be outside at the time of the attack, but were not because of rain.

There haven't been many opinion pieces on this yet. The only one Weblog has seen so far is in the New York Post. "As usual, the silence is deafening" from Saudi Arabia and other Muslims. "The plain fact is that fundamentalist Muslim intolerance of other faiths is the deadliest, most destabilizing force in the world today," the paper says.

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Bishop Atallah Hana:


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  • School's out | Christian leaders who once told parents to send their children to public schools to be "witnesses" to "the salt of the earth" now warn that those schools are unsafe and are agents of moral decay (The Washington Times)
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Interfaith relations:


  • For spellbinding soccer, the Juju Man's on the ball | Across Africa, juju men do a brisk business in the soccer season trying to influence the action on the field (The New York Times)

  • Earlier: It's Soccer, Not Quidditch | Witch doctors and red devils populate the game of soccer (Christianity Today, May 17, 2002)

  • Also: Supernatural suspicions on rise | Hundreds of women, men and children in the Central African Republic are charged every year with practicing witchcraft, a crime punishable by execution or imprisonment (The Washington Times)

Crime and violence:


  • Belarus: Church destruction sparks outrage | The church's supporters claim its destruction amounts to religious persecution (Radio Free Europe)

  • Cuba travel advisory | Castro beckons tourists, even as he tortures a blind, Christian human rights activist (Editorial, The Wall Street Journal)

  • A deadly place for blasphemy | In Pakistan, those accused of sacrilege against Islam face life in prison or execution, if mobs or inmates don't kill them first (Los Angeles Times)

Church and state:

  • Mother wants 'God' kept in pledge | On Monday, the girl's mother, Sandra Banning, filed a court motion seeking to intervene in the case. If the court will not allow that, she asks that references to her daughter be taken off the lawsuit (Associated Press)

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Politics and law:

  • Welfare plan links religious, government aid | Initiative is designed to encourage faith-based groups to win state funding (The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.)

  • Faith-based groups benefit from new federal grants | Labor and HHS departments have announced plans to distribute nearly $50 million to encourage religious organizations to assist the government in helping the needy (The Washington Post)

  • The case for "discrimination" | As a Democrat, I have been deeply dismayed by how out of touch with the American mainstream the party has proven to be on the issue of faith-based initiatives, particularly on the issue of the so-called hiring exemption (Ronald J. Sider, First Things)

  • Experts fear debate over shari`ah a political ploy | Discussion more to do with seeking support from Muslim fundamentalists rather than cleansing the country of its moral decay (The Jakarta Post, Indonesia)

  • Clergy group's endorsement drawing fire | Black ministers back only 1, and snub 2 incumbents, in 13th District House race; 'It's clearly a slap in the face'; They note votes for bill; council hopeful supported (The Baltimore Sun)

  • Latin America's indigenous saint stirs anger, pride | Official portrait outrages many (Los Angeles Times)

  • Son of a preacher man | How John Ashcroft's religion shapes his public service (San Francisco Chronicle)

  • A real stumper | Candidates' campaigning at houses of worship raises questions over separation of church and state, tax-free status (The Ledger-Enquirer, Columbus, Ohio)

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Prayer and spirituality:

Missions and Ministry:

Church architecture:

  • Sacred creations | Making art for a church can mean technical and bureaucratic challenges. Just ask 9 artists at work on L.A.'s new cathedral (Los Angeles Times)

  • Also: Lending history to a new cathedral | In Los Angeles, an exhibit of artifacts from the Baltimore basilica is seen as chance to publicize its restoration (The Baltimore Sun)

  • God and Gotham | Manhattan may be famous for its temples to Mammon, but its churches and cathedrals are more impressive (The Daily Telegraph, London)

Church life:

  • Miners honored at church service | Family, friends and neighbors filled the Christ Casebeer Lutheran Church, just 100 yards away from where the men were trapped for 77 hours in a cramped shaft at Quecreek Mine in western Pennsylvania (Associated Press)

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World Youth Day:


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Clergy abuse scandals:

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