KARACHI: Police have charged 23 people with setting fire to two Christian churches during protests in Sukkur over desecration of the holy Quran.
About 400 people attacked and damaged the churches, one of them in a convent school, in the city on Sunday. "We have arrested 23 people on charges of attacking the churches and have registered cases against them," said local police chief Akbar Arain on Monday.
"All these people were arrested last night. The situation remained peaceful and under control today."
A man accused of burning pages from the holy Quran was also in police custody, said Arain. He said the man, a Muslim who converted from Christianity a few years ago, had burned the pages and tried to blame his father-in-law, a Christian with whom he had a property dispute.
Meanwhile, officials said that police and paramilitary soldiers were patrolling Sukkur after the riots. Troops are guarding churches and other installations while authorities have increased security in Christian-dominated areas, they added. Traders went on strike in protest at the sacrilege, closing shops, markets and commercial districts, while the government shut all schools for security reasons.
Three provincial ministers rushed to Sukkur and met with Muslim and Christian leaders to calm the situation. "I am sure that after meeting the leaders of both communities the situation will return to normal," said Sindh government spokesman Salahuddin Haider. agencies