Catholic and Protestant religious leaders in Pakistan have asked pardon for the killing of two innocent Muslims suspected of being accomplices of suicide bombers who blew themselves near two Christian churches in Lahore last Sunday. The two suspects were lynched by an angry Christian mob and their bodies set on fire. Seventeen people, including seven Muslims, were killed and more than 70 wounded in the terror attacks in the largely Christian neighbourhood of Yohannabad. The two innocent men were identified as a local glasscutter and a hosiery worker from Sargodha. "We ask forgiveness for the reaction of the Christian community," Fr Emmanuel Yousaf Mani, director of the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) of the Catholic Church of Pakistan said on March 18. "We can now only ask for forgiveness," said Rev Irshad Ashknaz, vicar at Christ Church that was attacked. They were speaking on Wednesday at a talk show held at St John Catholic Church, whose entrance was damaged in the terrorist attack. Some 200 Christians along with Archbishop Sebastian Shaw of Lahore, two Catholic priests, two Protestant clergymen, two Islamic students and police officers attended the event..
Christian pastors fear the lynching and burning episode could erupt into a backlash. "We condemn the killings but we are not sure how things will turn out," Rev. Ashknaz said. Shop owners in Lahore’s southern suburbs closed their doors on Thursday in protest against the killing of "innocent" Muslims. Youhanabad's 35 or so Christian schools will remain closed until next Tuesday. The authorities deployed nearly 1,500 police in the Christian neighborhood, with agents patrolling the dirty streets lined with closed shops. (Source: AsiaNews)
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