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Friday 11 September 2009

Gojra Update!

Here is an extract forwarded form a recent New York Times:

4 Militants Held in Fatal Attack on Christians in Pakistani Town


Published: September 9, 2009

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Police officials said Wednesday that four militants belonging to two banned groups had been arrested and accused of involvement in the killings of Christians and riots in a Punjabi town on Aug. 1.

At least seven people were killed when armed mobs of Muslims attacked a Christian colony in Gojra, a shabby town in Punjab Province, over a claim that a Koran had been defiled.
More than 100 houses belonging to Christians were burned, and dozens of people were wounded in the riots, which sent shock waves across the country.

A private advocacy group, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, called the attacks “barbaric” and a “comprehensive failure by the government to protect minorities.” Pakistan is overwhelmingly Muslim; non-Muslims make up only about 5 percent of the population. Christian Pakistanis are often treated as second-class citizens.

Giving details of the arrests on Wednesday, Ahmad Raza Tahir, the highest ranking police official in the Faisalabad region, where Gojra is located, said that three of the men who were arrested belonged to Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, a banned Sunni extremist group known for violence against Shiite Muslims and others. The fourth man, he said, belonged to Harkatul Jehad al-Islami, a banned extremist group with close ties to the Taliban. All four, he said, were trained in Afghanistan. Mr. Tahir criticized local politicians and clerics for not helping to avert the violence.
Rights groups have maintained that the attacks were planned and coordinated, with announcements made through mosque loudspeakers on July 31, urging Muslims to “make a mincemeat” of Christians.

Concerns about the rise of militancy in Punjab, the most populous and prosperous of Pakistan’s provinces, have increased in recent months. The southern part of the province — with rampant poverty and a large number of religious schools — is considered fertile ground for a militant brand of Islam.

A commission investigating the Aug. 1 violence has taken statements from victims, police officers and intelligence officials, and is expected to report its findings in less than two weeks.

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