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Central & South Asia
Lahore tense after mosques' attacks
Police blame Pakistani Taliban for Friday's assault, which left at least 82 dead.
Last Modified: 29 May 2010 17:21 GMT
Ahmadiyya sect demanded protection from further attacks as funerals took place on Saturday [AFP]

The leaders of Pakistan's Ahmadiyya religious minority have called on the government to provide better protection for the group, as they buried the victims of two deadly mosque attacks in the eastern city of Lahore.

The burials on Saturday came as Pakistani authorities began the hunt for members of the armed gang that left at least 82 people dead in an assault on two mosques belonging to the sect on Friday.

Authorities tightened security across the city in the wake of the attacks at the Garhi Shahu and Model Town mosques, which were still scattered with broken glass and stained with blood on Saturday.

But Raja Ghalab Ahmad, a local Ahmadiyya leader, urged the government to do more to prevent such attacks in the future.

"Are we not the citizens of Pakistan?" he asked at the site of the attack in the Garhi Shahu neighbourhood of Lahore.

"We do have the right to be protected, but unfortunately we were not given this protection."

Taliban blamed

Security forces battled the assailants for several hours following the co-ordinated attacks after Friday prayers and arrested two attackers, though some of the suspects escaped.

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The armed men, including three suicide bombers, stormed into the prayer halls firing guns, throwing grenades and taking hostages, police said.

Police have blamed the Pakistani Taliban for the attack.

Akram Naeem, a senior police officer in Lahore, said the interrogation of one of the arrested suspects revealed that the men were involved with the Pakistani Taliban and had trained in the North Waziristan tribal region.

"Our initial investigation has found that they all belong to Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan," Naeem said.

He said the suspect, "Abdullah alias Mohammad, was given terrorism training in Miran Shah", the main city in North Waziristan.

Shahbaz Sharif, the chief minister of Punjab province where the fighting took place, condemned the attacks and pledged to increase efforts to fight sectarian groups.

But Imran Khan, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Lahore, said minority communities of Pakistan are increasingly feeling under threat.

"I spoke to members of a Shia community today who feel that they are next. There is a significant Sikh community within the city of Peshawar. A few months ago I went to interview some of them, nobody wanted to speak to me.

"They told us they were scared for their lives. We are hearing more and more of this kind of fear.

"This attack has brought into sharp focus the way that minority communities are feeling."

The Ahmadiyya sect has been declared as non-Muslim by Pakistan because its interpretation of Islam differs from that of many Muslims.

The community says it has been the target of previous attacks and has received regular threats in the past.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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