Sunday, February 19, 2006

Muslims attack two churches in Pakistan

AFP Photo: Flames raise from a church set on fire by a mob in Sukkur
All these criminals needed was a rumor to go nuts and burn down churches!


Hundreds of angry Muslims ransacked two churches in southern Pakistan before setting them on fire after allegations that a Christian had desecrated the Koran, police and officials said.

The protesters ransacked two churches in the city of Sukkur, about 480 kilometers (300 miles) north of the provincial capital Karachi, Sindh provincial government spokesman Salahuddin Haider told AFP.

"They partly set the two churches on fire," Sukkur district police chief Aftab Halipoto told AFP by telephone, adding that a school at one of the churches had been damaged.

The trouble erupted after accusations that the Christian had thrown pages of the Muslim holy book in a dustbin, Haider said. Initial reports suggested a teenaged boy had been involved in the incident.
Protesters blocked roads by burning tires, the spokesman said, adding that paramilitary troops had been called out to restore order.
"The situation is tense but under control," he said.

Police arrested 50 people including the Christian, identified as Irfan Gill, Halipoto said.
The crowd tried to attack the local police station, insisting that the accused be handed over to them, but officers dispersed them without incident, he added.

Police indicated the Christian man may have desecrated the Koran in a bid to frame his father-in-law for blasphemy, a crime which carries the death penalty in Pakistan.

An inquiry has been launched into the matter, and government officials in Sukkur appealed for calm. Security was stepped up at Christian places of worship across Sindh province.