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9 Christian killed and more than 125 homes burnt down by extremist in Gojra Pakistan

Six people were killed in Pakistan on Saturday when extremists demonstrators set fire to houses in a Christian enclave and fighting broke out, local police said. Police said Muslims were enraged over an alleged desecration of pages in the Quran at a Christian wedding last Saturday, and held a rally to protest. The Quran is the Muslim sacred text.

Six Christians were burned alive in Pakistan August 1, 2009 when hundreds of Muslims attacked and looted their homes, sparked by rumours that pages from the Qur'an had been desecrated.

The dead, including four women and a child, were killed when Christian homes were torched by hundreds of supporters of a banned Muslim organization in the Punjabi village of Gojra, in eastern Pakistan.

Tensions have been running high between the two communities over allegations that Christians had defiled pages from the Muslim holy book, despite authorities insisting that the rumours were unfounded.

Television footage from the area showed houses burning and streets strewn with debris and blackened furniture as mobs ran at each other. There were reports in the local media of exchanges of gunfire between Christian and Muslim communities and that rioters had blocked a railway line.

Pakistani authorities named the extremist group involved in the violence as Sipah-e-Sahaba, which has been accused of launching attacks against security forces and carrying out bomb attacks in public places in recent years.

Pakistan's federal minister for minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti, said he had visited Gojra on Friday and asked police to provide protection for Christians who were facing threats, but accused them of ignoring his efforts.

Pakistan is a predominantly Muslim nation although religious minorities, including Christians, account for about 4% of its population of 170 million. The communities generally live peacefully alongside one another, but Muslim militants have periodically targeted Christians and churches in recent years.


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