World Vision: Pakistan attack ‘brutal and senseless’

By March 11, 2010

Pakistan (MNN) — World Vision is mourning the brutal and senseless deaths of six of their staff members in the Mansehra District of Pakistan after an unprovoked attack by gunmen.

The international humanitarian organization confirms reports that gunmen entered its compound, threw grenades, opened fire on staff inside its office, and left the compound after letting a self-made bomb explode. The compound is located 65 kilometers north of Mansehra town.

World Vision's Dean Owen says six Pakistani staff members were killed and eight injured. "There were somewhere between 15 and 20 individuals who broke into our compound. They shot up the staff and robbed the staff of jewelry, money, computers, and phones. World Vision typically loses one staff member a year to violence; never, ever in our 60 year history have we lost six in one day."

So far, nobody has claimed responsibility, says Owen. "We really cannot speculate as to whether this was an attack because of the nature of our work, because of our faith — we're just not really sure. But this is a devastating blow to our organization globally."

Owen says, of those who were killed in the attacks, all were Muslims. "In some countries where we work, there are no Christians to hire." So they hire Muslims to help them do the relief work–Muslims who fully understand that World Vision is a Christian organization.

All of World Vision's Pakistan work has temporarily suspended. "We will be conducting a thorough and extensive review of our security measures, and if need be, strengthen our security efforts," says Owen.

In addition to those killed, 8 employees are hospitalized with injuries. Four of them were released from the hospital, while the other 4 remain hospitalized in critical but stable condition.

No threatening letters were received prior to the attack. World Vision's relief and development work in Pakistan is conducted by local citizens, and local leaders have strongly condemned the attack. World Vision sees the incident not only as an attack on its own local staff, but also as an attack on the Pakistani people themselves.

All of World Vision's operations in the country have been suspended for the time being.

World Vision remembers those staff who died as dedicated people seeking to improve the lives of people affected by poverty and disasters.

Since 1992, World Vision has primarily focused on relief interventions in Pakistan. The work expanded in 2001, when the agency began collaborating with other aid groups in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and Punjab Province with emergency relief assistance and community development initiatives. After the devastating October 2005 earthquake, World Vision expanded its operations in Pakistan.

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