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‘Troops deployed on the streets’ after Pakistani Christians riot in response to church bombings

Pakistani protesters throw rocks during clashes with police (PA)

Troops have been deployed on the streets of Lahore, Pakistan, to stop more rioting by Christians, angered by the deadly suicide-bomb attacks on churches in the city, according to reports.

Lahore police chief, Amin Wains, said that troops were stationed on the streets as the funerals of the last of the victims of Sunday’s attacks by the Taliban got underway today, the Associated Press reported.

At least 78 people were reportedly injured and 14 killed in the explosions at a Catholic church and nearby Christ Church in Youhanabad, Lahore. Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a faction of the Pakistan Taliban, claimed responsibility for the bombings and threatened to carry out similar attacks in the future.

The suicide bombings set off two days of rioting in which a group of Christians are said to have burned to death two people they suspected of being involved in the bombings. Two Christians also died after being hit by a car that was attempting to drive through a road block the protesters had set up.

Meanwhile, Catholic and Protestant leaders in Pakistan are leading a day of fasting and prayers for the victims of the bombings. Religious leaders of both denominations also urged Pakistanis to stop violent reprisals in response to the attacks by the Taliban.

“Today, we kneel before the Almighty in fasting and prayer for peace, forgiveness, mercy, grace, patience and tolerance,” Mgr Rufin Anthony, the Catholic Bishop of Islamabad and Rawalpindi, told AsiaNews.

Fr John Nisar, from the Diocese of Lahore, added: “We must be humble. Damaging public property is not the right way to make [our] protest. We are in Lent, a time for practicing forgiveness and sacrifice. We strongly condemn the Sunday attacks, we stand alongside the suffering families and also condemn the destruction of public property. We must remain peaceful and witness Christ with our own lives.”