One killed, 12 injured as Christians protest countrywide over deadly church attacks

Some 5,000 Christians rally in Lahore, blocking roads and shouting anti-government slogans


Afp/web Desk March 16, 2015
PHOTO: AFP

Police broke up Christian protesters in Lahore with tear gas and baton charges on Monday, a day after suicide bombers killed at least 16 people outside two churches, police said.

The protesters, angry at the lack of security for Christians, blocked a major highway in the city. One person was killed and 12 others injured during the protests.

Read: 14 dead, 75 injured in attack on Lahore's Christian community

"Police wanted them to disperse peacefully and did not take any action," said Nayab Haider, a spokesman for Lahore police.

But a hit-and-run by a car, which injured four protesters, provoked the crowd, some of whom started throwing stones at cars and private property.

 



PHOTO: AFP

 

"When police tried to stop them, they stoned police and beat officials with batons. In retaliation, police baton-charged them followed by tear gas firing," Haider said.

Sunday's attacks, claimed by a faction of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, occurred minutes apart in a majority-Christian suburb of Lahore.

 



Christians protest in Karachi. PHOTO: REUTERS

 

Police said they targeted two churches, one Catholic and one Protestant.

Militants have attacked Christians and other religious minorities often over the past decade.

Many Christians accuse the government of doing little to protect them, saying politicians are quick to offer condolences after an attack but slow to take any concrete steps to improve security.

Following the blasts, enraged residents beat and burned to death two men they suspected of involvement, a police official said.

Read: Lahore church attacks: My brother was not a militant, says brother of lynched victim

Protesters also began smashing up shops and attacking vehicles.

 



PHOTO: AFP

 

"I and my driver were coming to Lahore when protesters stopped us, struck our car with batons and beat my driver and told us to go back," Zulfiqar Ali, a resident of Kahna in Lahore told Reuters of Monday's violence.

 



PHOTO: AFP

 



Committee to probe Youhanabad incident formed 

Talks between Punjab government and the leadership of Christian community on Monday have yielded a committee to be set up which will probe the bombing of two churches in Lahore on Sunday, Radio Pakistan reported.

The provincial government ensured the Christian community that their issues will be resolved, and concerns addressed including increased security for churches.

Meanwhile, the Bishop of Lahore Irfan Jameel appealed the protesters to disperse, peacefully.



UN secretary-general condemns attack

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the terrorist attacks, and extended condolences to the families of the victims, said a statement issued on Monday by the UNSG spokesperson.



PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

“The Secretary-General notes with grave concern that the Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attacks while threatening to carry out more such acts in the future,” reads the statement.

Ban Ki-moon called on the government to swiftly bring the perpetrators to justice, and to do its utmost to prevent attacks against places of worship and protect religious minorities.



Tear gas, water cannons being used

As the mob gets violent, police has resorted to using water cannons and tear gas to disperse them, according to Express News.



"Police wanted them to disperse peacefully and did not take any action," said Nayab Haider, a spokesman for Lahore police.

But a hit-and-run by a car, which injured four protesters, provoked the crowd, some of whom started throwing stones at cars and private property.

"When police tried to stop them, they stoned police and beat officials with batons. In retaliation, police baton-charged them followed by tear gas firing," Haider said.



Protests in Karachi

Meanwhile, Christians protested against the attacks in Karachi as well and chanted slogans against the government.

Director of National Commission for Justice and Peace Rev Father Saleh Diego said Lahore churches were attacked because of government’s failure to implement Supreme Court’s order for protection of churches.

“In June 2014, the Supreme Court ordered the federal government to form a task force to protect places of worships. This was never done,” he said, while leading a protest outside the Karachi Press Club.

 



PHOTO: REUTERS



Rangers summoned 

As the situation deteriorates, Rangers has been summoned to take control of Youhanabad, Express News reports.



One killed

A man was killed when a woman stopped by the protesters drove her car over him, our correspondent Hassan Naqvi reports.

In the midst of the protests, the woman sped off  crushing one beneath and injuring four others.



Police resort to aerial firing

To disperse the enraged protesters, police has resorted to aerial firing.



12 injured

Twelve people injured as mayhem continues in the streets of Lahore.

The injured have been shifted into General Hospital.



1,000 police deployed

More than 1,000 police were deployed in the neighbourhood, where many protesters had armed themselves with clubs, but the situation remained calm.



PHOTO: AFP



Protesters account

"We are on the roads to get justice, we want protection," 50-year-old protester Maqbool Bhatti told AFP. Bhatti, a government employee, said authorities had failed to take adequate security measures.

"There was no proper security on Sunday, the government should protect all churches," he added.

Asher Kanwal, 30, added: "Christians are protesting because they are worried of their future."

 



PHOTO: AFP



Protests spread countrywide

Christians, who make up around two percent of Pakistan's mostly Muslim population of 180 million, have been targeted in recent years.

Sunday's attacks were the worst on the community since a devastating double suicide-bombing in the northwestern city of Peshawar in September 2013 killed 82 people.

That came months after more than 3,000 Muslim protesters torched some 100 houses as they rampaged through Joseph Colony, another Christian neighbourhood of Lahore, following blasphemy allegations against a Christian man.

Protests also spread across Punjab and Sindh as people took to the streets to express their anger at the incident.

On Faislabad's Millat Road, residents are chanting slogans against the government and have resorted to tyre burning. The metro services in Lahore have also been suspended until further notice.

 



PHOTO: REUTERS

Read: Church bombings in Lahore



Punjab CM announces package 

Chief Minister Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif announced a package of Rs500,000 for the families of the victims who passed away following the blasts and a further Rs75,000 for those injured in the attacks.

Read: World Report 2015: Minorities vulnerable to attacks, says HRW

 


An Express News screen grab



Missionary school in Quetta closed 

The Catholic Board of Education in Quetta has closed the Missionary School for the day , while the Pakistan Nursing Federation has announced a three-day mourning period in Balochistan.

Read: Kot Radha Kishan couple were tortured, burnt: Post-mortem report confirms

Christian volunteers established their own security check-points on Sunday, tying ropes across the roads leading into Youhanabad and patting down worshippers who had come to offer prayers for the dead ahead of funerals planned for Tuesday.

Some carried placards with slogans such as "Why do you kill us?", "Stop killing Christians," and "Let us live".

Special prayers were meanwhile planned at churches throughout the country, as well as candle-light vigils by Christian groups and members of civil society.

COMMENTS (13)

Human | 6 years ago | Reply @Aqsa Who then decides who is Muslim and who is not?
Aqsa | 6 years ago | Reply All Islamic Pakistan is the solution....no minorities then.
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