Sources in Pakistan report a radical Muslim mob has attacked Christian homes in three areas near Peshawar, Pakistan.
According to Voice of the Martyrs, which aids persecuted Christians around the world, the Tuesday attacks came after a Christian man was accused earlier that day of burning pages with Quranic verses written on them.
VOM sources say the man, Yousaf Masih, a man in his 60s, has worked for almost two decades as a sweeper for the Pakistani military. His most recent assignment was cleaning in the home of a military officer, a major. Tuesday, he was asked to clean the office at the major’s home. During the cleaning, he came across a bag of papers, and the major told Masih to take the papers outside and burn them.
According to the report, Masih is illiterate and would not have known what was written on the papers. Other workers saw the papers and said Masih was burning pages from the Quran.
After hearing the workers’ accusations, Masih rushed to his home in the Lama Veera area of Nowshera, east of Peshawar, VOM’s sources said.
At 3 p.m. Tuesday, police came to the home and arrested Masih. Insulting Islam, the Prophet Muhammad or the Quran can be punishable by death under Pakistan’s harsh anti-blasphemy laws. Following the arrest, a group of angry Muslims came to the home and began to beat Masih’s three sons, the report indicated.
Muslims returned to the area at about 10 p.m. that night and burned an estimated total of 200 houses in Lama Veera, CMH and Saran. Many houses were looted by the attackers, who stole TVs, refrigerators and other items. The mob beat Masih’s sons and his brother, Yaqoob.
VOM reported authorities have arrested 16 people involved in the attacks. A Hindu temple was also attacked, indicating the mob apparently first believed Masih was a Hindu.
Voice of the Martyrs workers are en route to the area and will evaluate the immediate needs of the Christians there who have lost their homes. Reportedly, local Christians are currently in fear of further attacks.