Church attacked in Mian Channu in Punjab, Pakistan


MULTAN: March 31, 2006. Unidentified intruders broke into a church in a central Pakistani city and torched its furniture, in what officials described as an attempt to stir up religious tensions.

Police said they had no immediate idea who was behind the assault, which took place at around midnight on Thursday in the town of Mian Channu in eastern Punjab province. There were no injuries. "We have started an investigation into the incident but we think it was designed to create religious unrest in the area," a local police official said on Friday. Another police official, Tikka Khan, said a pastor who lives in the same compound saw a gang of people entering the church after breaking glass windows and later setting fire to the furniture. Amid the tense situation in the town, a local Christian politician said the attack was meant to create conflict between the local Christian community and Muslims. In February a mob torched a church, ransacked another and damaged a nearby school run by nuns in the southern city of Sukkur. Many such attacks are sparked by local rivalries between Christians and Muslims, often over alleged acts of desecration against the Koran, the Muslim holy book. But Pakistan has also seen a chain of deadly attacks on Western and Christian targets blamed on Islamic militants who are against President Pervez Musharraf`s support for the US-led "war on terror". AFP

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