A mob attacked a church and burnt down houses of Christians over alleged desecration of the Quran in Pakistan's Punjab province, a news report said on Saturday.
A large number of villagers, armed with bricks, stones and sticks, attacked the church on Friday and set it on fire near Sambrial village, about 30 km from Sialkot, the Dawn newspaper said.
The violence forced the members of the minority community to flee the village, the report said. All markets in Sambrial and adjoining areas were closed and police patrolled the village to avert further violence.
Local Christian leaders condemned the burning of the church. Emanuel K Gill, Bishop Samuel Pervaiz and Javaid Silvestre were quoted as saying that the situation was alarming and the government had failed to protect minorities and their places of worship. They demanded that those who attacked the church should be arrested.
Senior police officials claimed that the attackers were local people.
Five Christians, identified as Fanish Maseeh, Saleem Maseeh, Qaisar Maseeh, Danish Maseeh and Nadeem Maseeh,
allegedly snatched a Quran from a 15-year-old Hina and threw it into a drain, the Pakistani daily reported.