Six Christians, including a child, were killed Saturday in eastern Pakistan by members of a banned radical Muslim group, officials said.
Hundreds of Muslim extremists continued to burn Christian homes after some members of the Sipah-e-Sahaba group accused Christians of desecrating the Quran on Thursday. Among the six Christians killed were four women.
Pakistan Christian Post reported that the Muslim mob pulled the Christian woman out of their homes and killed them execution style.
The sectarian riot began Thursday when thousands of Muslims raided a Christian village called Korian in Punjab province in eastern Pakistan and destroyed about 60 homes and two churches.
Local Muslims had accused a Christian family of desecrating the Quran when they found pages of the Islamic scripture in front of the family’s home. The family, however, said they do not know how the pages appeared in front of their home.
They nonetheless apologized, but Muslims filed charges against the family for blasphemy and then went on to attack the village, forcing some 100 Christian families to flee.
Federal Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti, also Pakistan’s leading Christian human rights activist, said there is “no truth” to the claim that Christians desecrated the Quran, according to The Associated Press.
He said the mob was “misled by religious extremists.”
Other authorities and lawmakers have concurred, saying that after investigations there is no evidence of desecration of Islam’s holy book.
Besides the burning of homes, there was also an exchange of fire.
In a letter to the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, a Pakistani church leader said local television coverage has reported that dozens of Christian homes with all their belongings were completely burned to the ground while dozens of others were partially burned.
“Even the animals belonging to Christians are roasted in fire,” the church leader, whose identity is withheld for security reasons, said.
He recalled on July 5 that 117 Christians families were attacked in the village of Bahamaniwala also in Punjab province.
“Their houses were also destroyed and belongings were looted while women and children trying to escape were attacked with acid,” the church leader said. “The situation is grave in Korian. The Christian community has lost everything. They are desperate for help. As usual police and authorities have not acted in time.”
He requested prayers for the people in Korian.
Pakistan is overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim, with Christians making up less than five percent of the 170 million population. The country’s blasphemy laws have too often been abused by Muslims who use them as a tool for revenge or persecution against Christians.