Xians attacked in Pak village, church set on fire:Dawn

A mob attacked a church and burnt down houses of Christians over alleged desecration of the Quran in Pakistan's Punjab province, a news report said today.

A large number of villagers, armed with bricks, stones and sticks, attacked the church yesterday and set it on fire near Sambrial village, about 30 km from Sialkot,  the Dawn newspaper said.

The violence forced the members of the minority community to flee the village, the report said. All markets in Sambrial and adjoining areas were closed and police patrolled the village to avert further violence.

Local Christian leaders condemned the burning of the church. Emanuel K. Gill, Bishop Samuel Pervaiz and Javaid Silvestre were quoted as saying that the situation was alarming and the government had failed to protect minorities and their places of worship. They demanded that those who attacked the church should be arrested.

Senior police officials claimed that the attackers were local people.
Five Christians, identified as Fanish Maseeh, Saleem Maseeh, Qaisar Maseeh, Danish Maseeh and Nadeem Maseeh, allegedly snatched a Quran from a 15-year-old Hina and threw it into a drain, the Pakistani daily reported.

According to local officials, the father of one of the accused had been detained and the people involved in the incident would be arrested soon.

Eight Christians were killed last month when an angry mob of Muslims torched 40 houses and a church in Gojra, 160 kilometres west of Lahore, over alleged desecration of Quran.
Christians, like other minorities, have been targetted in Pakistan for flouting blasphemy laws, which was introduced by former military ruler Zia ul-Haq. International rights groups have urged the government to change the law because it was being used to terrorise religious minorities

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