Paramilitary forces have been guarding the Christian community in eastern Pakistan where a Muslim mob vandalized and burned churches and many houses after two residents of the community were accused of desecrating the Koran, police said today.
The attack took place on Wednesday in Janwala, Faisalabad, an industrial district, and went on for more than 10 hours without police intervention, residents and community leaders said. Police denied the accusation, saying security forces had intervened on time.
The mob were asking for the two defendants, who had fled their homes, to be handed over to them.
Residents said that thousands of Muslims led by local muslim priests held iron bars, sticks, knives and daggers during the riots.
In a statement, the provincial government said that paramilitary forces were deployed to assist the police in controlling the situation.
Troops have blockaded the Christian area, closing all entry and exit points with barbed wire, Reuters reported.
More than 100 people believed to have joined the riots and have been arrested, the provincial government said in a statement, adding that an investigation into the incident had been ordered.
Yasir Bati, a 31-year-old Pakistani Christian, said how he managed to escape, since next to his home one of the churches was set on fire.
“They broke the windows, the doors and took out the refrigerators, the sofas, the chairs and other furniture, they threw them in front of the church and burned them. They also burned and desecrated the Bible,” he said, answering questions from the French Agency.
. Also a former provincial governor and a minister responsible for minorities has been shot dead after being accused of blasphemy.
The United States expressed “deep concern about the targeting of churches and homes,” State Department Deputy Spokesman Vedant Patel said on Wednesday.