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May 27, 2006

Tensions high after church was attacked in Mian Channu

MULTAN : Unidentified intruders broke into a church in a central Pakistani city and torched its furniture more than a month ago, in what officials described as an attempt to stir up religious tensions. Police said they had no immediate clue to who was behind the assault, which took place at around midnight 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. 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 the Muslims.

In February a mob torched a church, ransacked another and damaged a nearby school run by nuns in the southern city of Sukkur .

Christians account for around three percent of Pakistan ’s overwhelmingly Muslim 155 million populations, making them the largest religious minority in the South Asian country.