Lahore (AsiaNews) - Churches looted and vandalized; houses looted and then set on fire; residents threatened with death. Late yesterday afternoon an angry mob of Muslims attacked the Christian colony Dhup Sarri Lahore (Punjab province), after rumors spread of a young Christian having committed an act of blasphemy. The fate of the accused, Humayun Masih, is unknown. The police tried to contain the riots, but many police officers were injured. A team of rangers is on site to control the situation.
Rev. Riaz Arif, from the Protestant church of St. Joseph Sanda, said: "Yesterday afternoon some Muslims saw Humayun Masih burn some papers containing sacred verses. The youth is mentally unstable and a drug addict, but a group of people took him and brought him to the police station of Gulshan Ravi to file a complaint. Given his condition, the officers did not take the issue seriously. "
At that point, the pastor continued, "some Muslim religious leaders gathered a crowd and spread the news. The situation became increasingly tense: Muslims blocked the road in protest against Christians demanding Humayun be burned alive. The attack took place between 5-6pm"
The police intervened to stop the riots, using tear gas, but with little success. Even the deputy inspector general of police was injured. The Catholic church in the area was attacked; Bibles and religious books were burned. Some Christians have fled, others are still locked in their homes.
Fr. John Arshad, a priest of the Dhup Sarri Catholic church, explains: "I was doing my regular rounds after Sunday mass, when I received the news of a Christian man assaulted and taken to the police station. Together with Rizwan Paul and Malik Jahangir I went there, but when I arrived I saw Muslims vandalize and destroy everything that was in the church. I also heard gunshots. From what I know Humayun Masih is mentally unstable and in the custody of the police. "
In the hours after the attack news that the Christian had been killed spread. However, the priest adds, "I cannot confirm anything, the situation is still uncertain."
On 15 March in Lahore two bombers blew themselves up at the entrance of two Christian churches in the Youhanabad colony.