By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service
LAHORE, PAKISTAN (ANS) -- A 70-year-old Swedish Christian worker is in critical condition after unidentified gunmen shot her as she returned home from her office in Lahore today, sources said.
Police inspect site where Christian worker Birgitta Almby was shot in Lahore
According to a story by Morning Star News, Birgitta Almby, who has been serving as area director with Full Gospel Assemblies (FGA), was returning home for lunch from the FGA Bible School in Lahore's predominantly Christian Bahar Colony. It was then that two unidentified assailants riding a motorcycle opened fire at her as she stopped the car outside her house in the upscale Model Town area.
"Sister Birgitta was hit in the chest, and the attackers fled the scene thinking they had finished their job," FGA Bible School Principal Liaqat Qaiser told Morning Star News.
He added, "From the information available so far, it seems that the two assailants were following her or were waiting for her to reach her house where they opened fire on her."
Qaiser said that rescue officials immediately moved Almby to Lahore's Jinnah Hospital, where doctors removed the bullet.
"However, she's in a critical condition because of blood loss," he said.
Dr. Ali Usman of Jinnah Hospital told Morning Star News that the bullet had damaged Almby's lungs and jugular vein.
"We have kept her in the Intensive Care Unit, where her situation is precarious because of excessive bleeding," Morning Star News reported he said. "She was initially put on ventilator for some time after the operation, but she can now breathe on her own."
Morning Star News reported Qaiser said that Almby has served in Pakistan for 38 years.
"She never expressed any threats to her life and moved in the city quite comfortably," he said. "Pakistan is her home for so many years, and everyone who is acquainted with her will vouch for her dedication and commitment to serve the local Christians."
Morning Star News said he added that the Christian community was praying for her life and early recovery.
Although details of the attack were not immediately available, he said, it seemed to have been carried out by Islamist extremists who are increasingly targeting religious minorities in Pakistan.
Morning Star News said that FGA, which describes itself as a "church fellowship," was founded in the United States with congregations worldwide. The organization runs charities in Pakistan, including a technical training institute, an adult literacy center and orphanages.
"Only a cook was present inside the house at the time of the attack, but he cannot recall hearing any gunshot," said Qaiser.
Morning Star News reported that Model Town Superintendent of Police Malik Awais said officers were investigating from all angles, and nothing concrete could be said at this point.
"We have taken her cook into custody for interrogation, as he was present inside the house at the time of the attack," Awais said. "A case has been registered against the unidentified assailants under Section 324 of the Pakistan Penal Code."
Pakistan is nearly 96 percent Muslim, according to Operation World. Christians make up 2.45 percent of the population.
More information may be found about Morning Star News at http://morningstarnews.org