Pakistani Taliban behind Gojra carnage, says Punjab governor

GOJRA - The governor of Pakistan’s Punjab province Tuesday said the militants from the Swat Valley are responsible for the communal clashes in this Pakistani city last week in which nine people, including six women, were killed and scores of others injured.

Speaking to the media here, Punjab Governor Salman Taseer said: We strongly condemn Gojra carnage. Such heinous acts of violence and brutality are not an enriching sign for any one.

If the number of police (personnel) deployed now could have been deployed on that day (on the day of the clashes), then things could have been different, the Online news agency cited the governor as saying.

The violence erupted last Saturday in the Gojra tehsil in Toba Tek Singh district of the province over the alleged desecration of the Holy Quran by one of the groups.

Fierce clashes broke out when a mob marched towards a village of the rival community to settle the scores after the news spread. The authorities booked nearly 800 people for rioting and killing people.

Officials said 40 houses and a church were torched by one of the rival groups.

The governor said he has come to Gojra on the directives of the federal government.

The perpetrators of the Gojra carnage will not be spared at any cost, he said.

He said Swat militants who are on the run have played a role in the violence and we will make sure they are run out (driven out) from Punjab too.

Tension has been running high between the Muslims and Christians in the area over the alleged desecration of the Holy Quran.

Television footage showed burning of houses, streets strewn with blackened furniture and people firing at one another from their rooftops.

Taseer said the allegation of police negligence in the incident is being investigated.

Earlier, Federal Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti alleged a mob “misled by extremists” attacked a Christian neighbourhood and torched dozens of houses.

Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said a preliminary investigation showed there was no desecration of the Holy Quran. “It was just a rumour which was exploited by anti-state elements to create chaos.”

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