Pakistan hunts mosques’ attackers

May 30, 2010 - 0:0

Victims of Friday’s deadly attacks on Ahmadi mosques were Saturday buried separately after the religious community cancelled a mass funeral amid fears of further attacks.

The cancellations come as Pakistani authorities hunt members of the armed gang that left more than 93 people dead in a double attack on two mosques belonging to the sect.
""We are not satisfied with the security arrangements. We have cancelled the mass funeral program,"" Salim-u-din, a spokesman for Lahore's Ahmadiyya community, said on Saturday.
Security forces battled the assailants for several hours following the co-ordinated suicide and grenade attacks on mosques in Garhi Shahu and Model Town, but some escaped.
The attacks occurred minutes apart after Friday prayers in two neighborhoods in Lahore. Two teams of gunmen, including some in suicide vests, stormed the mosques and sprayed bullets at worshippers while holding off police.
Thirteen people died overnight, raising the death toll to 93, Raja Ghalab Ahmad, a local sect leader told AP.
Local TV channels reported that the Pakistani Taliban, or their Punjab province branch, had claimed responsibility.
The Ahmadiyya sect has been declared as non-Muslim by Pakistan because its interpretation of Islam differs from that of Muslims.
The community says it has been the target of previous attacks and has received regular threats in the past.
-------------'Very sad day'
Raza Rumi, a policy analyst and editor of the weekly Friday Times, said the attack marked a ""very sad day"" for both the city and Pakistan as a whole.
""The way this minority sect has been hounded for the past three decades has come to such a pass that you now have acts of violence even in private spaces of worship,"" he told Al Jazeera.
""Their rights to worship and pray are not being adhered to.""
""Since the late 19th century, their founder declared himself to be a messiah or prophet of sorts. In Islam, the finality of Prophet Muhammad as the final prophet is part of the Muslim belief system.""
""So the Ahmadis were deviating from that and that has always irked fundamentalist Muslims.
[However] not just moderate Muslims, but even the very devout and staunch Muslims of Pakistan do not support this act of terror.""
----------------'Fight this menace'
The Ahmadiyya mosque attack was condemned by Shahbaz Sharif, the chief minister of Punjab, who pledged to increase efforts to fight sectarian groups.
""It's a reminder to the nation that Pakistan will achieve its destiny only after we get rid of the worst type of extremism and fundamentalism,"" Sharif said.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said it had warned of threats against the Ahmadiyya community centre in Lahore and demanded ""foolproof security and protection"" from the government.
The terrorist act has drawn international condemnation from all corners of the world.
Photo: In Chenab Nagar, markets and bazaars remained closed and people were seen going in groups to the main graveyard. (Photo: AP