Lahore | Amidst tight security, hundreds of Christians today attended funerals of the victims of Taliban suicide attacks on two churches here in one of the worst attacks on the minority community in Pakistan in over a year. Sixteen people, including six Muslims, were killed Sunday when two suicide bombers blew themselves up at the gates of twin churches inYouhanabad, a Christian Colony of over 100,000, which is largest Christian dwelling in the country.
The Christian leaders from different parts of the country attended the funeral prayers of the 10 victims, a day after violent protests by the community members against the blasts. The government had calledin Rangers to control the law and order situation at Youhanabad where violent clashes between Christians and Muslims erupted in the wake of protest against the suicide attack on the churches.
At least two people were killed and about a dozen wounded in the clashes. After the attack on churches, the enraged mob had set two ‘suspects’ on fire after severely beating them. One of the lynched men later identified as Naeem, a glass cutter by profession, was present near the churches at a shop busy in his work.
The attacks on churches sparked two days of protests by thousands of Christians who clashed with water canon-wielding police, blocked roads and forced a partial shutdown of the city’s public bus system. About a dozen people were injured. As the police failed to control law and order situation in Youhanabad the Rangers were called in who took over security control of the troubled area.
The Rangers would remain deployed in the area until situation normalises. Shops were closed as grieving residents made their way toward the burial grounds. Senior cleric Bishop Irfan Jameel appealed for calm and said that a memorial would be built to honour the martyrs of Youhanabad. It is a curfew like situation in Youhanabad and adjoining areas, said Salamat Saeed, a local resident.
The people of the locality are afraid. We are now expecting strict police action against our community on lynching issue. Police has registered two FIRs – one against the Taliban militants and the other against those responsible for burning alive two ‘suspects’. Police have taken some 17 suspects into custody during a search operation at Youhanabad and adjacent localities, Lahore police spokesman Niyab Haider said.
Tahreek-i-Taliban Pakistan splinter group Jamat-ul-Ahrar has claimed the responsibility for the attack. Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has said the government would bring to justice those who were involved in lynching the two men after blasts.
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