FAISALABAD: A Muslim crowd attacked a Christian community in eastern Pakistan today and set scores of houses on fire, accusing its members of desecrating the Quran, police and community leaders said.
The incident took place in Jaranwala town of the industrial city of Faisalabad, police spokesman Naveed Ahmad said. A violent crowd had attacked the community after two Christians were accused of blasphemy, he said.
Police were trying to calm the situation down but local residents said it seemed to be worsening. The crowd had grown in number, with dozens of people blocking a nearby highway.
A Christian leader, Akmal Bhatti, said the crowd had torched at least five churches and looted valuables from houses that had been abandoned by their owners after clerics made announcements in mosques inciting the mob.
Police spokesman Ahmad gave no details on the violence and did not confirm if any churches had been burnt.
Several social media posts, however, showed some churches on fire, as well as houses and belongings.
Blasphemy is punishable by death in Pakistan and though no one has ever been executed for it, numerous accused people have been lynched by outraged crowds.
Rights groups say accusations of blasphemy are also misused to settle scores. Hundreds of people are languishing in prison after being accused of it as judges often put off trials, fearing retribution if they are seen as too lenient, they say.