Religious extremists struck again in Pakistan on Saturday when a violent mob of Muslims looted and burned a Christian neighborhood, killing six Christians by burning them to death. The attacks took place in reaction to a rumor that the Koran was desecrated in a nearby village.
The violence, which took place in the central Punjab town of Gojra City, occurred early on Saturday when a throng of Muslims surged into the Christian quarter, setting all 40 of the Christian houses and two churches aflame.
As the crowd of Muslims approached Gojra City, Christians fired shots at them in self-defense.
Six Christians—four women, a man and a 7 year-old child—were burned to death in the attacks.
The rioters were enraged by the alleged desecration of the Koran in the village of Koriyan, about two miles away.
However, Rana Sanaullah, provincial minister for law, who is also responsible for security matters of Punjab, said that an initial investigation found there was no desecration of the Koran. "It was just a rumor which was exploited by anti-state elements to create chaos," he said.
According to locals, the police observed the looting and burning, but took no action. “Though police was present at the time of attack, miscreants were not stopped by them,” local Christians complained. After some time, the police tried to stop the protesters, but the mob turned on the police, resulting in some injuries.
According to Minorities Concern of Pakistan, “this is the third incident in the last two months of this kind in Punjab province in which Christian localities were attacked due to alleged blasphemy.”
Christians make up just 1.5 percent of the total population of Islamic Republic of Pakistan.