Six masked men in central India this month killed one of 22 Christians a Maoist group had warned to “leave the pastorship,” sources said.
Pastor Yalam Shankar was slashed and shot to death the evening of March 17 outside his home in Angampalli village, Bijapur District, Chhattisgarh state in front of his wife and daughter-in-law, relatives said. They said he was in his early 50s.

Christians meet near their rebuilt church in Kandhamal. In 2008, almost every church in the area was destroyed by Hindu nationalists.

The assailants left a note on his body stating that they were Maoists who had killed him for being a “police informer,” but area Christian leaders and police said they doubted that was the motive.

While Pastor Shankar was eating dinner some men outside his house called out the name of his oldest son, the pastor’s daughter-in-law said. Pastor Shankar went out to speak with them, and his wife and daughter-in-law followed.

As he stepped out telling them that his son was not at home, the six men with faces covered with cloths attacked him, said his daughter-in-law, whose name is withheld for security reasons.

“As soon as my father-in-law stepped out of the house, they tied his hands at the back,” she said. “Then they hit his face and forced him to kneel. After he did, they slit the back of his neck with a knife. They shot two bullets into his chest and stabbed him in his chest with a knife.”

The masked men left but soon returned, kicking his body to ensure that he was dead, she said.
One of the assailants approached Pastor Shankar’s daughter-in-law with a gun, causing her to faint, she said.
“My heartbeat suddenly increased, and my head began to spin, and I fainted out of fear,” she said.
Pastor Shankar’s body was taken for autopsy and was buried the late afternoon of March 18. He is survived by his wife, two sons, daughter-in-law and grandchildren.

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