Hundreds of Muslims attacked and set fire to a Hindu temple in northwest Pakistan on Wednesday, police and witnesses said.
Videos shared on social media showed men using hammers to damage the temple walls as thick gray smoke rose from the construction site.
The incident took place in a remote village in Karak district, about 100 kilometers southeast of Peshawar, capital of northwestern Khyber Pakthunkhwa province.
“An accused mob of around 1,000 to 1,200 people was instigated by the local Muslim clergy to destroy the Hindu temple,” District Police President Irfanullah Khan told AFP.
Discrimination and violence against religious minorities are widespread in Pakistan, where Muslims make up 97 percent of the population and Hindus only about two percent.
Earlier this month, the United States put Pakistan on a list of “Countries of Special Concern” for violations of religious freedom.
Khan said resentments against the temple, which has not been used regularly, have been brewing for years, especially after recent renovations.
“The police have recorded one case against around 20 people and we will use videos to track down other culprits,” added Khan.
Kamran Bangash, the provincial information minister, also confirmed the attack and the veracity of the videos seen on social media to AFP.
“We believe in religious freedom and those who participated in it will not be spared,” said Bangash.
Local resident Sulaman Khattak told AFP that the crowd marched to the temple after being approached by clergymen.
“They were prepared, some had hammers and canisters of oil with them,” Khattak told AFP.
Pakistani Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari said the government has a responsibility to “ensure the safety of all of our citizens and their places of worship”.
“This is not the first incident of its kind. Unfortunately, intolerance towards religious minorities in Pakistan has increased over the past five years and attacks on places of worship have increased,” said Hindu rights activist Kapil Dev.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and posted from a syndicated feed.)