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Sainthood calls for young Pakistani martyr


A young man killed while preventing a suicide bomber from entering a crowded church should be considered for canonization, according to Catholics marking the anniversary of a deadly terrorist attack carried out in Lahore on March 15 last year.

Volunteer security guard Akash Bashir, 20, stopped the suicide bomber from entering St. John’s Catholic Church and tackled him while being aware that the terrorist wore a bomb vest.

The attacker — from a Taliban splinter group — detonated the bomb, killing himself and Bashir outside the church.

Father Francis Gulzar, the parish priest, said the first anniversary of the terrorist attack on two churches in the Youhanabad area of Lahore marks the beginning of a movement to seek sainthood for Bashir. “Akash is our hero; his bravery saved more than 2,000 people inside the church,” said Father Gulzar. “He has inspired local Christian youth and now many are joining the church’s security,” he said.

Bashir was one of at least 15 people who died in the attacks and more than 70 were wounded. The other site simultaneously attacked was a nearby Protestant church. Currently 42 Christians remain in jail over the lynching of two Muslims who were suspected of being involved in the attacks.

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