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Sunday, 29 September, 2002, 13:20 GMT 14:20 UK
Pakistan Christians demand security
Mourners hold the coffin of one of Wednesday's victims
Seven Christians were killed in Wednesday's attack
Tens of thousands of Pakistani Christians have gathered outside a Karachi cathedral to demand better protection, following an attack on their community which killed seven people.

Security point at church near Lahore
Security at Christian sites around the country is tight
About 10,000 mourners, many wearing black armbands, gathered outside St Patrick's Cathedral. Banners outside the church compound urged the government to do more to prevent violence against the Christian minority in Pakistan.

At least 36 people have been killed and about 100 injured in several violent attacks this year against Christian and western targets.

In the attack on Wednesday, two gunmen entered the third-floor offices of the Institute for Peace and Justice (IPJ) and shot their victims in the head, before escaping.

'Backlash'

There was a heavy police presence in the area around the cathedral and paramilitary forces have been patrolling nearby streets.

There were some minor incidents of stone throwing when young men tried to force shopkeepers to shut their stores.


Christians are paying the price of bombing in Afghanistan

Christian former MP Michael Javed
In mainly Muslim Pakistan there are about 3.8 million Christians, about 2.5 % of the national population.

This was the sixth major attack this year against Christian targets this year.

Many Christian leaders feel there has been an increase in attacks after President Pervez Musharraf declared his support for the US war against terrorism.

Michael Javed, a Christian former Member of Parliament said: "Christians are paying the price for bombing in Afghanistan."

Police investigation

Police in Karachi have arrested dozens of alleged Muslim extremists in connection with the recent attacks on Christian targets.

But they say there is so far no evidence to show that Islamic militants were responsible for Wednesday's attack.

On Saturday, Interior Minister Moinuddin Haider suggested India could have had a role in the attack.

"The involvement of RAW (India's intelligence agency) cannot be ruled out," he said.

President Musharraf, who has condemned the attack, also tried to implicate India.

For its part, the Indian Government has been accusing Pakistan's intelligence agency (ISI) for an attack on Tuesday at a Hindu temple in Gandhinagar, in Gujarat.

Observers say it is not uncommon for the South Asian rivals to accuse each other for the incidents of domestic violence.

Musharraf's Pakistan

Democracy challenge

Militant threat

Background

TALKING POINT

FROM THE ARCHIVES

BBC WORLD SERVICE
See also:

25 Sep 02 | South Asia
25 Sep 02 | South Asia
24 Sep 02 | South Asia
09 Aug 02 | South Asia
21 Sep 02 | South Asia
12 Sep 02 | South Asia
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