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Page last updated at 10:22 GMT, Sunday, 2 August 2009 11:22 UK

Pakistan Christians die in unrest

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Pakistan Christians die in unrest

Eight Christians have been killed in religious unrest in Pakistan's central Punjab, after days of tension sparked by the rumoured desecration of a Koran.

The four women, a man and a child died as Muslim militants set fire to Christian houses in the town of Gojra. Two men died later of gunshot wounds.

TV footage showed burning houses and streets strewn with debris as people fired at each other from rooftops.

Officials said the rumours which led to the unrest were false.

Pakistan map

Minorities minister Shahbaz Bhatti was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying that a Christian neighbourhood had been attacked by a mob "misled by Muslim extremists".

Mr Bhatti accused police of negligence, saying he had himself visited Gojra on Friday and asked for protection for the Christians.

Pakistan's small Christian minority has periodically been targeted since Pakistan became a US ally in the so-called War on Terror.

In May 2007, Christians in the north-west of the country sought government protection following threats of bomb attacks if they did not become Muslims.



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