Church in India Set on Fire After Quran-Burning Reports

A church in India was attacked late Sunday night after rumors had spread of Quran desecrations in the United States.

Though Florida Pastor Terry Jones had called off the planned Quran burning on Friday and ruled out any future burnings on Saturday, word spread in Malerkotla – the only Muslim majority town in the Indian state of Punjab – that the burning went ahead, setting off angry mobs.

According to reports, the fast-growing mob consequently set fire to furniture belonging to Calvary Church, the town's only Christian church, and attempted to demolish parts of the building late Sunday night.

It took several hours to restore peace to the town and police had to be called in from the nearby city of Sangrur.

The attack on the church was noted Monday by the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of India, Timothy J. Roemer, who said he was dismayed over reports of the attacks in Punjab and also in the nearby Kashmir region, where a Christian school was reportedly set ablaze during a violent demonstration.

"We strongly support local authorities' appeal for calm and an end to this violence," he stated.

One day before the attack in Malerkotla, a Lutheran church in neighboring Pakistan was struck by a bomb, which injured at least two.

Terrorists affiliated with the Taliban have been suspected of the late night bombing of the Church of St. Paul, which belongs to the Church of Pakistan, an umbrella organization of four Protestant denominations – Lutheran, Methodist, Anglican, and Presbyterian.

The Church of Pakistan has been active in responding to its country's deadly flood disaster since late July and launched an emergency relief and rescue program for families affected by the flood in the Diocese of Peshawar. According to reports, however, the work of the church is despised by Taliban groups, who wish to assert their power in the province.

According to the CIA World Factbook, Muslims make up 95 percent of Pakistan's population of 174 million. Christians and Hindus, meanwhile, make up the remaining 5 percent.

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