Twenty thieves broke in overnight on Saturday, November 26 and tied up the guards and pastor. The latter was threatened with death and had to reveal where the valuables were. In the past three years, six similar robberies of church property, and two burglaries at a convent.
Gazipur (AsiaNews) - At least 20 thieves looted the Catholic church of Mathbari in Gazipur, near Dhaka (capital of Bangladesh). On Saturday night [26 November] the criminals broke into the enclosure, and weilding knives tied up the night guards and the pastor.
Speaking to AsiaNews Fr. Vincent Bimal Rozario, the pastor, said he was awakened in the middle of the night and tried to scream, "but the thieves warned me to remain silent. They wanted to kill me with sharp weapons. They asked me where the money and valuables were. I was forced to tell them".
The robbers seized the night guards and bound their hands with ropes. To avoid attracting the attention of the faithful, they gagged them and then broke down the door. After tying the pastor up, and under the threat of death, they raided the church, taking away a camera, laptop, money to repair the tombs, two watches, a mobile phone and other goods for a value of 100 thousand taka [ 1190 EUR].
One of the guards was injured during the attack and is now hospitalized. The next morning, Fr. Bimal Rozario filed a complaint at the police station. Police opened an investigation and promised to step up surveillance of the church.
Despite assurances, the pastor is concerned about the safety of the community. In the last three years there have been six similar incidents in Church properties and two other robberies in the local convent. This is the convent where in 2014 two nuns of the Immaculate (female congregation associated with the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions) were assaulted and raped.
Msgr. Gervas Rozario, vice president of the Bishops' Conference of Bangladesh (CBCB), says: "It is very sad that robberies take place in churches. We are concerned about this incident. " According Chandon Rozario, another Catholic, "the priests and nuns sacrifice their lives for the Church. It is inhumane that they are victims of theft and persecution. I strongly condemn what happened. I ask that a proper investigation is conducted and that the perpetrators are found".
The Mathbari parish is made up of about 3500 Catholics. The church also has a girls' high school, entrusted to the sisters.
A dozen people have raid clinic run by religious, threatening them and stealing phones, cash and gold chains. Resident Muslims and Catholics, warned by the pastor, captured two thieves. The episode takes place four days after a similar attack in another province. Secretary of Justice and Peace: "These attacks are premeditated and intended to harm our Christian community."
A group of about 20 people attacked the Karpashdanga church and a convent of the catechists of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The related security guards and held at gunpoint. A religious refuses to hand over the money - in the house to pay a bricklaying - and is slapped with violence. Christian activist: "alarming signal, the sisters have always been very respected in the country."
The faithful show their sadness over the desecrated hosts. The parish priest is grateful to his parishioners for their prayers and to God for saving him from death. Anger is directed at police, deemed as negligent. The deputy police commissioner promises security cameras and a commitment to finding the thieves.
Canterbury St Augustine is one of Bangladesh’s oldest churches. Robbers broke into the building, tied up and beat the parish priest, Fr Pereira, ransacked the church, and broke open the offering boxes.
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