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Pakistan Probes Sectarian Attacks in Punjab


Pakistani authorities are questioning more than 200 people to determine if Islamist militants linked to al-Qaida were behind mob attacks against Christians in Punjab province.

Provincial Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said Tuesday that officials suspect members of the banned Sunni group Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan and its al-Qaida-linked affiliate, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, of orchestrating the attack in Gojra.

On Saturday, an angry mob of Muslims stormed a Christian neighborhood in the eastern town, torching dozens of homes over allegations that Christians had desecrated the Koran. Eight people were killed.

Church and government officials say there is no truth to the allegations. Christians make up a tiny minority of Pakistan's majority Muslim population.

Elsewhere Tuesday, police say separatist rebels in southern Baluchistan province shot and killed four kidnapped policemen and threatened to execute other people held in captivity.

Armed Baluch militants and other nationalist groups have waged a low-level insurgency in the province for years, demanding more access to the region's resources.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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