All Saints Church in Peshawar, Pakistan has with the help of local police, installed biometric gates at the doors of its church to identify attendees who enter and exit church premises.
In a part of the world where religiously charged violence is commonplace, local police expect the increased security measures will catch on with other churches around the city as well. The biometric gates were mandated by Peshawar’s inspector general following the September 22 twin bombings, an attack that occurred after a Sunday mass at All Saints. The bombings resulted in the deaths of 80 people with an additional 150 injured.
“Our churches are being targeted everywhere,” says Humphrey Sarfaraz Peter, bishop of Peshawar. “Such biometric enabled gates and extra security personnel should be deployed at churches around the province.”
To accompany the biometric gates, provincial government officials have begun installing security cameras at different locations throughout the city and will use a security system linked to the inspector general’s office to monitor the city. To further bolster security efforts, church administrations have been encouraged to hire their own security guards, whose salaries would be paid by the government.
“We have hired three guards from a private security firm but so far the government has not paid them,” says Peter. “We request the government to pay the security guards so they can continue with their job.”