(RFE/RL) — Pakistani police said they have arrested some 150 people in connection with an attack by a Muslim mob on a Christian neighborhood in the eastern city of Lahore.
The arrests came after some 3,000 Muslims charged on the neighborhood of Badami Bagh and destroyed almost 180 houses and shops. There were no casualties.
Senior Lahore police official Rai Tahir said authorities are continuing the search for people responsible for the destruction.
The rampage was sparked after a Christian man was arrested on March 8 after a friend accused him of making blasphemous remarks about the Prophet Muhammad, a charge punishable by death in Pakistan.
Multan Khan, police superintendent in Lahore, speaking on March 9 at news conferences in Lahore, called the attack “gruesome.”
“There were 4,000 to 5,000 people in the mob,” he said. “We tried hard to pacify them. Their act is really gruesome and obnoxious. Their cruelty reached the limit at which they burned down houses, beat police, and looted.”
Meanwhile, Shahbaz Sharif, chief minister of Punjab Province, announced that the government would give affected families compensation for the damage caused to their properties and businesses.
“I assure you that the government will fulfill its duties in this regard,” Sharif said. “[The government] will bring all [terrorists] involved in this incident to justice. [The government] will give 200,000 rupees ($2,000) to every affected family. Every home that was damaged will be repaired without delay.”
Thousands of Christians protested across Pakistan on March 10, demanding better government protection.
The largest demonstrations were in Lahore and the southern city of Karachi.
About 1,000 people gathered in both cities, while smaller demonstrations were held in the capital, Islamabad, and in Rawalpindi.