Pakistan Christians clash with police, demand security | News | DW | 16.03.2015
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Pakistan Christians clash with police, demand security

Christian protesters have pelted security forces with stones and blocked roads in Lahore during the riot sparked by deadly weekend bombings. Islamabad has deployed troops to restore the peace.

Over a dozen people were injured when police fired warning shots and used tear gas to dispel a crowd of some 5,000 people in Lahore in eastern Pakistan on Monday, according to the official sources.

A least one of the protesters died after being hit by a car, Police Deputy Inspector General Haider Ashraf said.

Local television stations aired footage of a car speeding away from the scene after hitting several protesters who were trying to block it.

Police spokeswoman Nabila Ghazanfar told AFP news agency that a female suspect had been detained in connection with the incident.

Clubs and crosses

Pakistani Christians came out on Monday in response to twin bomb blasts targeting Lahore churches, which had occurred the previous day. The Taliban suicide bombers activated their vests during Sunday services, killing at least 17 people and injuring dozens more.

Demonstrators blocked roads and established security check-points on routes leading to Christian neighborhood of Youhanabad where the bombing took place, many arming themselves with clubs while others carried giant crosses, or placards saying "Let us live" and "Stop killing Christians."

"We are on the roads to get justice, we want protection," said Maqbool Bhatti, a 50-year-old government employee who criticized the authorities for not taking adequate security measures to protect Christians.

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

On Sunday, angry Christian crowd burned two people alive, suspecting them of helping the bombers.

The city Commissioner Abdullah Sumbal Khan said Pakistani paramilitary troops had been called in to restore order after the Monday violence.

'Softest targets'

Protests were also organized in other Pakistani cities, with governments of Punjab and Sindh provinces announcing a day of mourning.

Christians make up between two and three percent of Pakistan's predominantly Muslim population and have been attacked on several occasions during recent years, often over allegations of profanity regarding the Koran or the Prophet Mohammed.

Also Monday, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan denounced the attacks as an "inhuman act of terrorism," claiming that "the noose has been tightening around militants" due to a major anti-Taliban operation.

"They are now hitting the softest targets like churches, mosques and schools. It shows their frustration," the minister said.

The Taliban group which claimed responsibility for the weekend bombings has been fighting the government forces for over a decade, in an attempt to establish their own Islamic regime. Thousands of Pakistanis lost their lives in the fighting.

Funeral for the bombing victims has been set for Tuesday.

dj/kms (dpa, AP, AFP, Reuters)

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