LAHORE, Pakistan – A gunman on a motorcycle shot and severely wounded an elderly Swedish woman who worked at a church in eastern Pakistan on Monday, officials said.
The woman, who was identified by Pakistani police as Bargetta Emmi, was getting out of her car in front of her home in the city of Lahore when she was shot in the neck by an unknown assailant. Her servants reported the incident to police, said Pakistani police officer Malik Awais.
She was a director of FGA Church (Full Gospel Assemblies of Pakistan), Awais said.
Swedish Foreign Ministry spokesman Teo Zetterman confirmed en elderly Swedish woman was shot and severely wounded in Lahore. He said she was a volunteer worker in her 70s, but did not provide her name or where she worked.
The woman is a Swedish citizen but has lived and worked in Pakistan for several years, said Zetterman.
The gunman who shot Emmi escaped, and the motive was unclear.
Also in Lahore, gunmen on Monday desecrated over 100 graves of Ahmadis, members of a persecuted religious sect in Pakistan, said Awais, the police officer. More than a dozen gunmen held the caretakers of the graveyard hostage while they defaced the graves.
"You can't inscribe verses from the holy Quran on the graves. You are Ahmadis. You are not Muslims," one of the attackers told the caretakers, according to Awais.
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.
Also Monday, a roadside bomb ripped through a police van as it was patrolling on the outskirts of the northwestern city of Peshawar, killing two officers and wounding two others, said senior police officer Javed Khan.
Peshwar is on the edge of Pakistan's tribal region, the main sanctuary for Taliban militants in the country, and has been hit by frequent bombings over the past few years.
In the southern city of Karachi, a gunman riding on a motorcycle killed the leader of an Islamic seminary, sparking a riot by hundreds of seminary students, who stoned shops and set vehicles on fire, said police officer Azhar Iqbal.
Karachi has a long history of political, sectarian and ethnic strife, which has been on the rise this year.