Saturday, March 9, 2013

Bangladesh: HR boss shocked to see extent of Jamaat terror in Banshkhali

National Human Rights Commission Chairman Mizanur Rahman yesterday said no words can describe the brutality of the February 28 attack on the Banshkhali Hindu community. “We are shocked to see the mayhem in Banshkhali,” he said at a press conference at Chittagong Press Club yesterday afternoon. “They burnt down government offices, vehicles, important documents, textbooks including books of Islamic studies and many other public and private properties,” Mizanur Rahman said. Visiting Banshkhali upazila in Chittagong yesterday morning, he met the victims of the violence unleashed by Jamaat-e-Islami over the death sentence to Delawar Hossain Sayedee in a war crimes case. “The commission finds no language to describe this brutality,” the NHRC boss said. “It is very pathetic to share the feelings after what I have seen in Banshkhali. It seems the heart of Bangladesh is bleeding.” Calling upon the government to compensate the victims, he said NHRC would submit a report on Banshkhali mayhem. Mizanur Rahman also said, “The religious fundamentalists want to divide us and it is high time the politicians resisted them and showed patriotism and stood by the people.” It is the responsibility of the state to bring back safety and peace among the people, he said, adding that any sort of slackness is unacceptable in this regard. Nirupa Dewan, member of NHRC, and Shamim Ahmed, director of NHRC, were present, among others, at the press conference. Earlier, Mizanur Rahman visited Banshkhali Upazila Parishad, courts of senior judicial magistrate and senior assistant judge, and Upazila Krishi Office, office of Upazila fisheries officer, office of upazila nirbahi officer (UNO) and some other places where vandalism and arson were carried out. Aminul Islam, senior judicial magistrate of Banshkhali, showed the NHRC chief the gutted record room and the custody of the court. Suchana Acharjee, one of the victims, described to the commission the brutality of the attacks. “They came and beat up the men, women and children indiscriminately and torched our houses with gunpowder and shouted ‘if you vote for Awami League, you would be beaten and your houses would be torched that way’,” Suchana said as she was in tears. “We are still reeling from the shock and apprehending further attacks,” she added. This correspondent also visited the upazila and talked to a number of victims. Rajan Das, owner of Saikat Pharmacy in the municipality of Banshkhali, is one of them. The shop was burned to ashes along with 28 others hours after Sayedee was convicted by the International Crimes Tribunal-1. After repeated attempts to choke back emotion, Rajan could share his harrowing experience during the NHRC chief’s visit to the area yesterday morning. Only the shops of Hindus came under attack, he said. “They looted our shops, ransacked those and finally set those on fire.” Asked if they had got compensation, he said, “We don’t want compensation. We just want our safety.”Jhantu Kumar Das, organising secretary of Banshkhali unit of the Hindu, Buddha and Christian Oikya Parishad, said the local BNP lawmaker had not visited them even nine days after the mayhem. “They have vandalised and torched the temples, houses and shops of the Hindus and the administration has completely failed to give us safety. Despite their massive failure, the upazila nirbahi officer and the officer-in-charge of the police station are still in office.” He alleged the police and a number of ruling Awami League leaders were cashing in on the situation by harassing innocent people instead of netting the culprits. “Five cases were filed accusing more than 12,000 people in this connection, but only 14 were arrested and four of them have already been released,” he alleged. “We called the UNO and the OC in the morning requesting additional forces to ensure our safety. But they did not listen to us. The UNO said nothing would happen.” Contacted, UNO Sabbir Iqbal said the Jamaat-Shibir men launched synchronised attacks on Satkania, Lohagara and Banshkhali. “It was a hartal day. So, we did not get support from other police stations.” OC Abdus Sabur said they had tried their best to bring the situation under control with the limited forces they had. Addressing the press, Mizanur Rahman said if any political party tried to damage public properties resorting to militancy, it could be banned with an executive order. “What they have done here can be termed a fight against the state,” he said. “By attacking important structures of the state, they attacked its sovereignty of the state.” The government should not tolerate such activities, added the NHRC chief.

No home for the ‘impure’ in Pakistan

The Lahore police just stood by on Saturday as violent mobs indiscriminately burned down at least 200 houses and 80 shops at a Christian inhabited locality in Punjab’s provincial capital after a Christian youth was accused of blasphemy the other day. The mobs arrived at the Joseph Colony area in Badami Bagh police precincts around 10am in the morning and without wasting much time, set fire to almost all the houses in the locality. The small Christian community of the area had already been forced to flee the night before when the story of the alleged blasphemy charge surfaced. According to details, Sawan Masih, 26, had been accused of blasphemy by a local barber Shahid Imran. An FIR was registered against the accused on the pressure of religious groups. Sawan was surrendered to the police late on Friday by a local NGO and has now been sent to prison on judicial remand. Badami Bagh Station House Officer Hafiz Abdul Majid had admitted to Pakistan Today that the police had been forced to file an FIR against the accused to placate the angry mobs which were ready to burn down the houses amidst high tensions in the area. Despite a heavy contingent of police present at the area to guard the locality, Christian residents were forced to flee overnight. The mobs, not to be swayed in their mission to purge the locality from “blasphemers”, turned up in the area early on Saturday and proceeded to wreak havoc on the community. Muslim locals of the area told Pakistan Today that they had tried to stop the mobs, saying that they were setting fires to houses of innocent people. “We tried to stop them but they wouldn’t listen. We have been living with these Christians for the last several years and there has been no religious animosity between us,” Mustafa Ahmed, who owns a tea stall in the area, told Pakistan Today. Paying no heed to calls for calm, the mobs looted valuables, broke anything within arms length and burnt everything else to ashes. Two police officials, including the Station House Officer Hafiz Abdul Majid, sustained serious injuries when they tried to negotiate with the protesters. The enraged mobs also burnt down several motorcycles and some rickshaws parked in the streets. Talking to Pakistan Today, Inspector Majid said that he had tried to placate the mobs but since his superiors had forbidden the police from exercising force, they had no choice but to stand down. THE ‘CRIME SCENE’: A visit to Joseph Colony presented the sight of a war-ravaged town, reminiscent of the destruction caused in the Gojra riots of 2009. Talking to Pakistan Today, a visibly distraught citizen, Jehanzeb Masih said, “I have no idea what the Punjab government is doing. Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has had poor record of safeguarding the rights of minorities in the country. Today’s targeting of our homes was one such example of the failure of the government to protect us.” He said that the police contingents had remained on the sidelines, fingering their weapons, but not taking a single step forward to stop the violent mobs from destroying their homes. He said that loot and plunder had been committed in the name of religion and the only people to have suffered were innocent bystanders. Ijaz Masih, another resident, told Pakistan Today that certain individuals in the mob sawed off gas pipelines to ensure maximum damage to the houses. “We are now forced to believe that this is not our country. Even if Sawan had committed the alleged blasphemy, why has the entire locality been subjected to such atrocity?” Haroon Khokhar, a hapless father of four daughters, wept as he narrated to Pakistan Today how the raiders had forced their way into his house after breaking open four locks. “They took everything valuable that I possessed. They even took my daughters’ dowry that we have been collecting over the past several years. They also burned down my new rickshaw that I had bought just last week. I ask Shahbaz Sharif why he stopped the police from acting against the mobs,” he said. ROLE OF CHRISTIAN NGOs: The area’s residents were also critical of the role of some Christian non-government organisations such as CLAAS and Human Liberation Commission which, according to them, had only worked to worsen the situation. “Joseph Francis of CLAAS, Salim and Aslam Sahotra used the incident for their vested interests. Sawan had initially been taken in by Salim and Aslam Sahotra who later handed him over to Joseph Francis. People close to the two groups told us that the latter had paid Rs 100,000 to them for Sawan’s custody. Francis then organised a photo session with the accused and around 2am on Saturday gave him in the custody of the Badami Bagh police,” a resident confided to Pakistan Today. He said that the violence could have been prevented if Francis and the others had conveyed to the Muslims that Sawan had been handed over to the police. “They however chose to keep mum, which resulted in the massive damage to our homes. Loss of lives and property is good business for such NGOs. Now when we have lost everything they have the nerve to come to our neighbourhood again. It’s not just the Muslim extremists, there are black sheep within our community too.” “Some NGO people retrieved burnt Bibles from the debris of houses and started raising a clamour that the mobs had desecrated the Christian holy book. They were literally pushing each other to get close to TV reporters…It is appalling that our homes and belongings have been destroyed yet these people are more concerned about burnt holy books and TV interviews,” he said, regretting that no Christian political leader had visited the locality since Friday evening to console them. “We are political orphans.” ‘I SAVED SAWAN’S LIFE’:Reacting to the charge, Francis told Pakistan Today that he had not offered any money for Sawan’s custody. “I took him from his sister’s house. The locals are misinformed,” he said. Francis said that he had presented Sawan to the police and had also conveyed to the area’s Muslims about his arrest. “The local Christians wanted to hand Sawan over to the police themselves but that would have surely led to his instant killing. I saved his life!” Asked about the photo session with the accused, Francis readily agreed to email the photographs to the writer. “We will fight Sawan’s case because he is innocent,” he said, dodging a query on how several persecution cases handled by his organisation had been abandoned midway after the media hype died down. Repeated attempts were made to contact Salim but he remained inaccessible.“Rather than stopping the mobs from burning down the houses, the police watched the entire incident as bystanders and the CM has the audacity to praise them for ‘saving Christians’. What can we say but lament the fact that we are a minority governed by an indifferent people,” said a local Christian pastor.

Punjab Government failed to provide protection to minority communities

Radio Pakistan
Prime Minister's Advisor on National Harmony Dr. Paul Bhatti says has said the Punjab Government has failed to provide protection to members of the minority communities. In an interview in Radio Pakistan's Naey Ufaq programme‚ he referred to the Lahore incident and said if someone committed blasphemy then the law should take its own course. However‚ he said‚ no one can be allowed to take the law into one's own hand and harm innocent people. Minister of State for National Harmony Akram Masih Gill said similar incidents occurred in Punjab in the past as well‚ but the provincial government made no arrangements for security of non-Muslims. He said even if blasphemy was committed‚ there was no justification to penalize a community for an act of individual. Leader of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan Zohra Yousaf regretted that the police silently watched the entire episode and did not take measures to safeguard life and property of non-Muslims.

End blasphemy laws: UN expert urges states

Countries should repeal all laws punishing blasphemy and people who leave a faith, the United Nations’ top expert on freedom of religion said on Wednesday, thrusting himself into a debate between many in the Muslim world and the West. Legislation outlawing apostasy - the act of changing religious affiliation - and insults against religious figures could be used to violate the rights of minorities, Heiner Bielefeld said in a report to the UN Human Rights Council. The comments from the United Nations’ special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief came amid heightened focus on faith-based laws in countries like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, where blasphemy carries the death penalty. “States should repeal any criminal law provisions that penalise apostasy, blasphemy and proselytism, as they may prevent persons belonging to religious or belief minorities from fully enjoying their freedom of religion or belief,” he said in the report. Rights campaigners say the blasphemy law in Pakistan is widely used against religious minorities including Christians. Speaking on the fringes of the rights council on Wednesday, Bielefeld said criminalising concepts like blasphemy was dangerous for free speech because there could be no common definition of what it was. Although a handful of Western countries have blasphemy laws, originally introduced to bar attacks on Christianity, they have largely fallen into disuse. Some Muslim groups in Europe call for their reactivation. In once strongly Catholic Ireland, where blasphemy is banned under the 1937 constitution, new legislation introduced in 2010 - partly in response to appeals from the small Muslim community - set a hefty fine for offending religious belief. But Irish officials say that law, now being reconsidered by a special commission, seems likely to be withdrawn as an obstruction to free speech. Bielefeld does not speak for the UN but was taken on as an independent official to report regularly on how freedom of religion was respected across the world.

Attack on Christians: HRW demands action against religious militants

Pakistan’s government should immediately take legal action against Islamist militant groups and others responsible for threats and violence against minorities and other vulnerable groups, Human Rights Watch demanded on Saturday in the aftermath of devastating attacks on Christian minority in Lahore. While international and Pakistani human rights groups have long called for the reform or repeal of the blasphemy law, it has come under renewed scrutiny after a mob torched dozens of houses located in a Christian neighbourhood in Lahore, forcing hundreds of Christians to flee. An enraged mob attacked the houses in Joseph Colony following allegations of blasphemy against a Christian man. The man was booked under Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC). “The Punjab provincial government has spent almost its entire 5-year term in office being in denial about threats to minorities,” said Ali Dayan Hasan, Pakistan director at Human Rights Watch, in a statement issued from New York. “Unless Pakistan’s federal and provincial authorities are following a policy of willful discrimination, law enforcement authorities need to put aside their prejudices and protect religious minorities who are clearly in serious danger,” he said. Social persecution and legal discrimination against religious minorities has become particularly widespread in Punjab province. The HRW has urged the provincial government, controlled by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), to investigate and prosecute as appropriate campaigns of intimidation, threats, and violence against Christians, Ahmadis, and other vulnerable groups. The Human Rights Watch has also urged concerned governments and intergovernmental bodies to press the Pakistani government to repeal sections 295 and 298 of the Pakistan Penal Code, which includes the blasphemy law and anti-Ahmadiyya laws. Pakistan’s “Blasphemy Law,” as section 295-C of the penal code is known, makes the death penalty effectively mandatory for blasphemy. “The ugly fact is that the blasphemy law is an enabler of mob violence against vulnerable groups,” said Hasan. “As long as such laws remain on the books and the authorities remain unwilling or unable to rein in mobs playing judge, jury and executioner, Pakistan will remain plagued by abuse in the name of religion,” he added.

We condemn attack on Christian community in Lahore by PMLN-backed ASWJ militants
An enraged mob comprising hundreds of Takfiri Deobandi militants of Sipah-e-Sahaba (ASWJ-LeJ) torched dozens of houses located in a Christian-dominated neighbourhood of Lahore on Saturday, 9 March 2013. The ASWJ-LeJ mob was led by local leaders of PML-N, the party currently ruling the Punjab province under CM Shahbaz Sharif. Media is obfuscating by describing PML-ASWJ terrorists as “angry mob”. Shame! The violent Sunni Deobandi mob attacked the houses in Joseph Colony in Badami Bagh police precincts in the provincial capital following allegations of blasphemy against a Christian man. The man was booked under Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC). It appeared that the man had been falsely accused of blasphemy but the police was forced to register a case to placate the ASWJ and PMLN leaders, a local police official said. The violent mob gathered around Joseph Colony on Noor Road, led by Shafiq Ahmed Deobandi, who was in search of the accused Savan, alias Bubby. The mob attacked Savan’s house, partially burnt it and pelted it with stones. Other houses in the locality – home to about 150 Christian families – were also attacked. Many residents, including women and children, hastily fled to save themselves. Savan could not be found. However, his father was caught and badly beaten. The vehicle of a pastor, who reached the area to inquire about the incident, was also damaged. The episode began at 1 pm in the afternoon and did not conclude till the evening. The police placated the mob by registering an FIR under section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code (death sentence) against Savan and ensuring that he would be given into their custody to decide his fate. They also took Chaman Masih into custody. Speaking to a private television channel, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said the accused man was in police custody. Rana Sanullah Deobandi is known to be a key sponsor of ASWJ Takfiri Deobandis in Punjab on behalf of PMLN’s Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif. He has himself led a number of anti-Shia rallies in Punjab along with ASWJ head Ahmed Ludhianvi Deobandi. Lahore Police silently kept watching while ASWJ militants led by PMLN leaders attacked and burnt Christian houses.Shedding crocodile tears, Rana Sanaullah Deobandi of PMLN said all those involved in the arson would be arrested, adding that his government would try to rehabilitate the affected Christian families. Apparently the situation went out of control when people reached the spot after offering prayers under Qari Saifullah Deobandi. Countless people had joined the mob, chanting slogans and throwing stones at the houses. Qari Saifullah Deobandi said that if they find Savan, they must cut him into pieces. Human Liberation Commission of Pakistan Chairman Aslam Parvaiz Sahotra visited the site and told The Express Tribune that the police registered the FIR after bowing to the pressure of the mob. However, the police did not care to save houses and properties of Christians men, women and children. Attacks on Christians are not uncommon in Punjab. In the past PMLN and ASWJ thugs attacked and burnt dozens of houses of Christian community in Gojra, Shanti Nagar, Faisalabad and other areas. We demand Shahbaz Sharif to be hanged along with Malik Ishaq and Akram Lahori Group of Fake Liberals. Killers of Christians in Shanti Nagar, Ahmadis in Lahore and Shias in Rawalpindin, Chakwal and Khanpur still roam free in Punjab province. Recently, anti-Shia threats are being distributed to Shia Muslims houses in Lahore: Sharif and his Fake Liberals are hiding the fact those attacking Christians in Lahore are PMLN & ASWJ Takfiri Deobandi goons. Taliban, terrorists, extremists, LeJ are vague terms used by ISI, right-wing & Fake Liberals. The ASWJ killers are right in front of us. Our question to CM Shehbaz: How many ASWJ terrorists were arrested for Christian massacre in Gojra? Ahmadi massacre in Lahore? #ShiaGenocide in Khanpur, Chakwal and Rawalpindi? Shame on pro-establishment Fake Liberals who routinely flatter Shahbaz Sharif but remain silent on attacks on Christians by PMLN-ASWJ goons We condemn @CMShehbaz & PMLN-sponsored Sipah Sahaba ASWJ terrorists on their role in torching of a Christian church in Lahore Pakistan Haider ‏@syedmhaider Burning down of Christians’ homes is a conspiracy to discredit Punjab Govt. It’s nothing to do with PMLN’s alliance with known terrorists. Punjabi Baba ‏@5abiBaba سپاہ صحابہ طالبان شریف لیگ کے نام ” لوگ ٹوٹ جاتے ہیں ایک گھر بنانے میں / تم ترس نہیں کھاتے بستیاں جلانے میں ” Nishapuri FC ‏@NishapuriFC Rana Sanaullah and Malik Ishaq are nothing but the true ugly face of Shahbaz Sharif and his flatterers Karachi_Post ‏@Karachi_Post Do we need any more prove that Punjab is the hub of Saudi Funded Deobandi extremism & terrorism in #Pakistan In the meanwhile, Akram Lahori’s NGO-Liberal niece and other Fake Liberals and paid consultants continue to flatter CM Shehbaz. A comment on Raza Rumi’s Qaseeda-e-Khadim-e-Aala – by Ali Arqam

Lahore’s Christians target of latest episode of hate – by AZ

The show goes on as the zealots put up a great performance in Lahore today. Hope you enjoy watching, even if you can’t be a part of the cast. An entire neighbourhood of Christians in the mega polis of Lahore was set alight today because a raging mob suspected one individual of some act of blasphemy. That this incident was orchestrated not by terrorists but by ordinary folks shows why the terrorism finds it so easy to hold hostage a nation where extremism roams freely in the streets. The details of the incident of the blasphemy are not yet known, but in Pakistan those are not relevant as it is not important to establish a crime to burn down an entire Christian neighbourhood – mere accusations suffice. How do we deal with a society where the blame for genesis of many such attacks can no more be placed squarely at the doorstep of the perceived radicals? What it means is that even violence is no longer a criterion to define who is a fanatic and who is not. There is never a stain on the hands of the perpetrators who kill with wanton and gleefully burn down poor people’s only shelters with their entire life’s belongings. As the minorities and the Shias remain precariously perched on the holiest lance of extremism, it seems clear that no such incident of brutality can decisively jolt the collective conscience of Pakistan. It is as if the society does not really mind seeing the dust turned into ashes. Crucifix upon crucifix in the Cavalry and Karbala of Pakistan, daggers soaked in blood for the Glory of the Lord. The enemies of life roam the streets as ruthless demons cast from the rocks of certitude. So, as I wonder where the sun has gone, the show goes on in the night of Pakistan without much tangible hope of morning. Every such episode stirs up a frightful lament for people like us and then we realize that there is nothing in our grasp except making laments night and day. There are no arrows of hope in our quivers to shoot – nothing except laments till we too are taken. My beloved Faiz once cried out in desperation: “ This trembling light, this night-bitten Dawn This is not the Dawn we waited for so long” My dear Faiz, you were delivered from your misery too soon. In this complete darkness of night, we yearn for the Dawn you so despised. Yes, we yearn for the morning you saw as ‘night-bitten’. Yes, we in the bosom of heavy gloom envy you for having lived in that leprous daybreak – that you described as marked and wounded because the night had nibbled on it. You were laying an ambush for the moon so that you could enjoy a crisp and bright morning and, now see, how we ache for the moon in our dark night. Faiz you were lucky to part singing the hope of a world worth dreaming but no use for us entangling our existence in the mesh of your dreams. For us there is no balsam of life today, only the business of death remains, which our killers can settle when they wish. Faiz, people who are too busy digging up mass graves, are past even caring about their shrouds. So where do we go from here in a country wallowing in violence and hate in the ocean of religion? A country where the obsession with the history and the hereafter to the absolute oblivion of the present continues to deepen the reach of bias and sectarianism. Where amazingly trivial details of faith are governed by our desire to enhance piety and where our cultural, philosophical, and religious systems are all aimed at promising deliverance in the hereafter, even though by killing or volunteering for suicide bombing. I think, while a war against terrorism can still be won, a victory in the struggle against extremism is where the hope for Pakistan begins. But my life is likely reduced to lamenting as I do not bet on it happening in my lifetime. Any takers?

Muslim mob set on fire 200 homes of Christian in Lahore

Pakistan Christian Post PCP reported that Christian and Muslim youth in Snooker game had harsh words with each other on which Muslim boys accused one Christian youth Sawan Masih that he defiled names of Prophet Mohammad during argument. The dispute among Christian-Muslim youth was settled by some elders but one Muslim boy approached area mosque and informed of blasphemious comments of Christian boy. The announcements were made from mosques on loudspeaker, on which more than two thousand Muslims gathered around Joseph Colony and threatened Christians to leave their homes unless every one will be burn to death in homes. After threats from Muslim mob, hundreds of Christian families fled on evening of March 8, 2013, from Joseph Colony. The Muslim mob attacked many Christian elders, women and children and tortured them on not leaving area. Meanwhile, Badami Bagh Police approached on scene and arrested Sawan Masih under 295 C PPC of blasphemy law. Today, more than three thousand Muslim extremists attacked Joseph Colony and took out motorcycles and other furniture of homes of Christians and torched it. The Muslim mob after setting on fire belongings in homes also started burning homes with chemicals which they brought with them. More than 200 homes of Christians were burnt down while police stood silent and not tried to stop mob. Lahore is capital city of Punjab province and Headquaters of Rangers, Headquarters of Police, but non was sent to stop violence against Christians when Chief Minister of Punjab have secretariat here. Punjab is safe heaven of banned terrorist orgnization which are protected by ruling Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz Group PML (N) and vote bank of it. The Police officer who was responsible for not protecting Christians of Gojra Town of Punjab where Muslim mob set on fire more than 60 homes and burnt alive 7 Christian children, women and elders was transfered to Lahore instead of any punishment by Chief Minister of Punjab. The Muslim mob attack on village Korian and in Kasur occured during this ruling PML (N) in Punjab. Christians are second biggest population of Punjab after Muslims with estimated numbers of 18 millions. Dr. Nazir S Bhatti, President of Pakistan Christian Congress PCC have strongly condemned attack on Christian properties in Joseph Colony Lahore and demanded arrest of culprits. "The Punjab government is failed to provide security of life and property to 18 million Christians of Punjab and time has come that Christian might take right actions" said Nazir Bhatti

Muslim fascists in Pakistan torches Christian homes
Mob in Pakistan torches Christian homes
Hundreds of people in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore attacked a Christian neighborhood Saturday and set fire to homes after hearing accusations that a Christian man had committed blasphemy against Islam's prophet, said a police officer. Blasphemy is a serious crime in Pakistan that can carry the death penalty but sometimes outraged residents exact their own retribution for perceived insults of Islam's Prophet Mohammed. Pakistan is overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim and people of other faiths, including the nation's small Christian community, are often viewed with suspicion. The incident started Friday when a young Muslim man accused a Christian man of committing blasphemy by making offensive comments about the prophet, according to Multan Khan, a senior police officer in Lahore. A large crowd from a nearby mosque went to the Christian man's home on Friday night, and Khan said police took him into custody to try to pacify the crowd. Fearing for their safety, hundreds of Christian families fled the area overnight. Khan said the mob returned on Saturday and began ransacking Christian homes and setting them ablaze. He said no one in the Christian community was hurt, but several policemen were injured when they were hit with stones as they tried to keep the crowd from storming the area. The scene was chaotic. An Associated Press photographer on the scene said roughly 50 homes and a small church were set on fire. One man was seen carrying a dog and some puppies from a burning house. Refrigerators, washing and sewing machines, cooking pots, beds and other household goods were ripped from homes, smashed and torched in the streets. One Christian couple from the neighborhood said they went to their Muslim neighbors' house on Friday night after people came looking for the Christian man accused of blasphemy. Ishaq Masih said the Muslim neighbors sheltered the couple for the night and then gave them money to leave the area in the morning. Such accusations of blasphemy in Pakistan can prompt huge crowds to take the law into their own hands. Once an accusation is made it's extremely difficult to get it reversed, partly because law enforcement officials do not want to be seen as being soft on blasphemers. Also on Saturday, four people were killed and 25 were wounded when a bomb exploded inside a mosque of the Sunni Barelvi sect in the northwestern city of Peshawar. The bomb was planted in a bookshelf inside the mosque and was detonated by remote control when noon prayers started, said senior police officer Imtiaz Khan. Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa province, has been the site of several terrorist attacks in recent months. The city is surrounded by lawless tribal regions where al-Qaeda and Pakistani Taliban have hideouts. The Pakistani military has carried out several operations in the area, but intermittent terrorist attacks continue.

Six worshipers die in Peshawar blast; 28 injured

At least six worshipers were killed while 28 others were injured when a powerful explosion occurred inside a mosque here on Saturday. According to the police, the blast took place inside Bilawal Mosque near Shaheen Bazaar during the mid-day prayers. According to the Bomb Disposal Squad (BDS), three to four kilogram explosives were used in the blast which was planted inside the mosque. As per details, the people were busy to offer Zohar prayer when a powerful explosion occurred inside the mosque. As a result, six persons were killed while 28 others were injured while two injured were stated in critical condition. After the incident, police and rescue teams reached on the spot while the injured were shifted to Lady Reading Hospital here. The law enforcement agencies cordoned off the area while further investigations into the incident have been started. Condemning the terrorist attack, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Amir Haider Hoti has ordered best available treatment facilities to the injured persons.