Pakistan

Violent protests erupt over deadly church attacks; 2 dead

LAHORE: Raged at deadly twin suicide bombings at churches in Lahore that claimed 14 lives on Sunday, the Christian community took to the streets on second consecutive day in different cities of Punjab, blocked roads and raised slogans against the government, ARY News reported Monday.

At least five people were injured who clashed with police deployed at Ferozpur road to disperse the protesters. Senior PML-N leader Rana Sanaullah also reached the site to hold talks with the incensed demonstrators, however they also besieged Sanaullah and criticized the government.

Protesters run over by speeding car; 2 dead

An unfortunate incident occurred when a speeding car, in an attempt to escape violent protest on Ferozpur Road, ran over several protesters in which two people were killed, sparking more outrage among the Christian community. The woman driver was arrested by the police.

At least 14 injured were brought to the General Hospital for treatment. Hospital sources confirmed that two people had died who were run over by the vehicle.

Christians raged

Sunday’s attacks in the Youhanabad neighbourhood of Lahore sparked mob violence in which two other suspected militants were killed, with Christians smashing up cars and a bus station in a rare show of anger from the persecuted minority group.

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

“We are on the roads to get justice, we want protection,” 50-year-old protester Maqbool Bhatti said.

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 said.

AFP adds: Asher Kanwal, 30, added: “Christians are protesting because they are worried of their future.”

Minorities under attack

Christians, who make up around two percent of Pakistan’s mostly Muslim population of 180 million, have been targeted recent years, often over allegations of profanity regarding the Koran or the Prophet Mohammed.

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.

Christians 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.

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