Arif Ali/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesCharity workers prayed for a Swedish woman who was critically wounded by a gunman in Lahore, Pakistan.
HONG KONG — A Swedish woman doing charity work through her evangelical church was shot outside her home in Lahore on Monday, according to news reports from Pakistan. A gunman riding a motorcycle fired at the 72-year-old woman as she got out of her car in the upscale Model Town neighborhood.
It was not immediately clear whether the attack was sectarian in nature or was perhaps linked to another event Monday in Model Town in which masked gunmen vandalized a cemetery.
Reports differed about the name of the shooting victim — Bargeeta Almby or Bargetta Emmi — although the Swedish Foreign Ministry confirmed to The Associated Press that a Swedish woman had been critically wounded in an attack. Some reports said she had been shot in the chest, while another said she had been hit in the neck.
News reports said the woman had lived in Pakistan for nearly 40 years and worked with the Full Gospel Assemblies Church, although Simeon Strauser, a pastor and the chairman of the ministry, which is based in Pennsylvania, told Rendezvous in an e-mail message on Tuesday that Ms. Almby was not affiliated with his church.
Christian groups in Pakistan and the national Human Rights Commission condemned the shooting.
Model Town, a well-tended suburb of Lahore, is home to judges, politicians, business leaders and celebrity athletes. Nawaz Sharif, the former prime minister, has a home there.
But early Monday morning in Model Town, gunmen tied up the caretakers of an Ahmadi cemetery and desecrated more than a hundred grave markers, the Express Tribune newspaper reported.
A picture of broken and uprooted headstones accompanies the article here.
The Ahmadi sect is considered heretical by mainstream Muslims.
“The perpetrators removed and broke the tombstones of graves,” the paper said. “They also told the caretakers that they were not supposed to write the Kalima or Bismillah on the tombstones because ‘Ahmadis are infidels.’ ”
Kalima are Islamic religious declarations. Bismillah means “in the name of God.”
“ ‘You can’t inscribe verses from the holy Koran on the graves. You are Ahmadis. You are not Muslims,’ ” one of the attackers told the caretakers, according to a police official who spoke to The Associated Press.
An excerpt from the A.P. article:
Parliament amended Pakistan’s constitution in 1974 to declare that Ahmadis were not considered Muslims under the law.
Ahmadis believe their spiritual leader, Hadrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who died in 1908, was a messiah — a position rejected by the government in response to a mass movement led by Pakistan’s major Islamic parties.
The Ahmadis’ plight — along with that of Pakistan’s other religious minorities, such as Shiite Muslims, Christians and Hindus — has deepened in recent years as hard-line interpretations of Islam have gained ground and militants have stepped up attacks against groups they oppose. Most Pakistanis are Sunni Muslims.
“The men were wearing black masks and were speaking Punjabi and Urdu,” The Express Tribune reported. “Their ‘leader’ had long hair, a beard and traces of Pashto in his accent. They told the guard and others that they belonged to a banned organization and the Taliban.”
In August of 2011, Warren Weinstein, an American consultant working with Pakistani dairy farmers, was kidnapped from his home in Lahore. He is being held by Al Qaeda, and in May of this year he appeared in a video from As Sahab, the Qaeda media wing. The video is here.
Mr. Weinstein, sitting cross-legged behind a table with books and food, said in a monotone: “My life is in your hands, Mr. President. If you accept the demands, I live. If you don’t accept the demands, then I die.”
Those demands, as Declan reported, include the cessation of all U.S. airstrikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, and the release of several men convicted in the World Trade Center bombing in 1993.
Mr. Weinstein, now 71, also appeared in a video in September, embedded below, in which he appeals for U.S. acceptance of the Qaeda demands. At one point he addresses Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, saying:
Therefore, as a Jew, I’m appealing to you, Prime Minister Netanyahu, the head of the Jewish state of Israel, one Jew to another, to please intervene on my behalf. To work with the mujahideen and to accept their demands so that I can be released and returned to my family.