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Pope Benedict XVI has deplored the killing of eight Christians in Pakistan by a Muslim mob and urged the minority Christian community not to be deterred by the attack. The Christians, including four women and a child, were either shot or burned alive on Aug. 1 when a crowd attacked the eastern Pakistani town of Gojra, setting fire to dozens of Christian homes. Authorities said tensions were running high in the area, fueled by a false rumor that a copy of the Koran, the sacred book of Islam, had been desecrated. A telegram sent in the pope’s name said the pontiff was “deeply grieved to learn of the senseless attack” on the Christian community. Noting the “tragic deaths” and the immense destruction in the neighborhood, he sent condolences to the families of the victims and expressed solidarity with the survivors. The telegram, sent to Bishop Joseph Coutts of Faisalabad, asked the bishop to “encourage the whole diocesan community, and all Christians in Pakistan, not to be deterred in their efforts to help build a society which, with a profound sense of trust in religious and human values, is marked by mutual respect among all its members.”

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