Pakistan mob sets fire to Hindu temple: officials

KARACHI (AFP) - An angry mob of dozens of Muslims set fire to a Hindu temple in a southern Pakistani city over the alleged desecration of a Koran, officials said on Sunday as police were deployed to quell tensions.

The arson took place on Saturday night in Larkana, the home town of opposition leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari who is the son of assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

It was the latest example of violence over an alleged violation of Pakistan's tough blasphemy laws, which rights groups say are often abused to settle personal scores.

"The law and order problem surfaced in the city Saturday evening after local residents accused a Hindu youth, Surjeet Kumar, of burning pages of the Holy Koran," senior local administration official Ghunwar Leghari told AFP.

He said dozens of enraged Muslims attacked a Hindu temple in the city and set fire to its sanctuary.

Police had detained Mr Kumar and were interrogating him and the situation was brought under control overnight in the city, Mr Leghari said, adding there was now a heavy deployment of police and paramilitary rangers on the streets.

Another senior local police official, Mr Khadim Hussain Rind, confirmed the incident and said two Muslims had been arrested for disturbing the peace.

Reacting to the incident, Mr Zardari tweeted: "I consider attack on temple akin to attack on GKB (Garhi Khuda Baksh).perpetrators will b brought 2 justice as will people who spread lies and incited violence." Garhi Khuda Baksh is a village which houses the Bhutto family mausoleum.

Hindus account for around nine per cent of Larkana's population of around 400,000, with many running their own businesses.

Minorities are particularly suspectible to accusations of blasphemy in Pakistan, where Muslims make up 97 per cent of the population and insulting the Prophet Mohammed can carry the death penalty.

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