Targetting of Christians in Pakistan by Terrorists
* Report says policemen had heard anti-Christian announcements from mosques
* Attackers belonged to Sipah-e-Sahaba, other extremist outfits
Staff Report, Daily Times, August 5, 2009
LAHORE: Last week’s attacks on the Christian community in Gojra were not a spontaneous reaction to allegations of blasphemy but planned in advance, a fact-finding mission of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said on Tuesday.
The mission’s report said announcements made from mosques in Gojra on July 31 urged Muslims to gather and “make mincemeat of the Christians” over allegation of desecration of the Holy Quran a week earlier. Witnesses told HRCP that when they informed the police about the announcements, the police officials also confirmed hearing the announcements.
On August 1, around 1,000 people gathered in the area and marched towards Christian Colony the HRCP said, adding that a police contingent present in the neighbourhood did not try to stop the mob, which included a number of masked men.
Witnesses said the attackers appeared trained for rioting and arson, the commission reported.
The protesters carried inflammable substances and torched more than 40 houses of Christian families in less than half an hour, with many houses looted before being set on fire.
They claimed that a number of attackers belonged to the banned Sipah-e-Sahaba and other extremist organisations.
The regional police officer told HRCP that many of the attackers had come from outside the district, possibly Jhang.
It said the local administration’s inaction was intriguing, adding that the tragic incidents were a “comprehensive failure” by the government to protect minorities.
Amid the assaults, the commission also noted that some Muslims in the neighbourhood provided shelter to Christian women fleeing the violence.
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