This morning, suspected Islamist militants attacked World Vision, a Christian-based relief agency operating in the Manserha district of Pakistan. Six aid workers, all Pakistani, were murdered and seven others were wounded. Witnesses said 10 gunmen walked into the office building wearing military-style clothing with grenades and machine guns and asked employees “why are you doing this job?”. Some witnesses said that the gunmen singled out aid workers from the laborers before they began shooting.
Those who kill humanitarian workers must be reminded that they are not only killing their own country’s residents, but also people seeking to improve the lives of victims of poverty and injustice.
World Vision Statement
Insurgency attacks on civilians or civilian institutions, for example against schools, hospitals or NGOs, are a common human rights violation in northwestern Pakistan. According to our own research based on publicly available sources, 448 insurgency attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure have occurred between 2005 and 2009 (196 in FATA, 252 in NWFP).
However, today’s attack against World Vision happened in the relatively peaceful district of Mansehra. Our research recorded four attacks against civilian targets over five years in this district, which is close to the capital Islamabad. Most of the past insurgent attacks happened in the neighboring SWAT districts (56 attacks), the place of a major military offensive by the Pakistani army in the spring of 2009. It is too early to tell if today’s attack confirms the fear that the militants might have been pushed into Mansehra following last year’s offensive, but it is something worth closely following.