Mosque of religious minority attacked
Thousands of Sunni Muslims marking the Prophet Muhammad's birthday yesterday attacked a mosque in Pakistan belonging to the Ahmadi religious minority, wounding several people, officials said.
The mob hurled stones and bricks at the mosque before storming the building, said Mahmood Javed Bhatti, deputy commissioner of the Chakwal district outside Islamabad, adding that gunmen opened fire on Ahmadis during the melee.
Rashid Ahmad, a local police official, said the mob set fire to part of the mosque, and that Ahmadis inside the building also hurled bricks, wounding some of the attackers.
Another police official, Malik Nawaz, said security forces had dispersed the crowd, taken over the mosque and sealed it. He said Pakistani army and paramilitary reinforcements were being brought in to calm the situation.
Saleem-ud-Din, a spokesman for the Ahmadi community in Pakistan, said the mosque was under siege.
Pakistan's parliament declared Ahmadis non-Muslims in 1974, and they have repeatedly been targeted by Islamic extremists, who view them as heretics. They have also been taken to court on blasphemy charges.
The Ahmadi faith was established in the Indian subcontinent in the 19th century by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, whose followers believe he was a prophet.