Christian advocacy organisation Release International is calling on Pakistani authorities to step up security for Christians, to prevent mob violence from escalating in the country.
Protesters have already clashed with police after suicide bombers struck at two churches in Lahore earlier this year, killing 15 and wounding 80. According to Release, the death toll would have been far higher if security guards had not prevented the bombers from entering the churches. The guards were among the dead.
A splinter group of the Pakistan Taliban has claimed responsibility, warning they will attack again.
One of Release’s partners in Pakistan was injured in the bomb blast. Another has raised fears of communal violence that would play into the terrorists’ hands. In the confusion following the attack, angry residents of Youhanabad reportedly killed two Muslims they suspected of aiding the terrorists.
Christian and Muslim leaders have been calling for calm, but there is concern now that the situation could escalate, and there could be reprisals against the beleaguered Christian community.
The Lahore church bombings are the latest in a string of extremist attacks against Christians in Pakistan. Minority Christians make up less than 2 per cent of the population, and are suffering discrimination and persecution.
A young teenage Pakistani who was attacked and severely burned by Muslim radicals in the city of Lahore has died in hospital of his injuries. The attack happened as Muslims were on their way to Friday prayers on 10 April.
According to reports, 14-year-old Nauman Masih told police that he was en route to the tailor’s where he worked as an apprentice, when ‘two people stopped me, while Muslims were going to their mosques, and asked me whether I was from their religion.
‘I told them that I am Christian. They started beating me and, when I tried running, both boys started following me through the street and then they threw kerosene oil on me and burned me’.
In his statement, Nauman Masih said that some local people from the community threw sand on him to dampen the flames. It took four days for Nauman to die in hospital of his injuries. He sustained burns on 55 per cent of his body.