Gunmen attack 2 mosques of minority sect during Friday prayers in Pakistan

By Babar Dogar, AP
Friday, May 28, 2010

2 minority sect mosques attacked in Pakistan

LAHORE, Pakistan — Gunmen armed with grenades attacked two mosques of a minority Islamic sect during Friday prayers in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore, police said. Casualties were expected.

The attacks were against the Ahmadi group, which radical Sunni groups have targeted in the past, though never on such a large scale or coordinated fashion.

Dunya TV showed one of the attackers atop the minaret of one of the mosques, firing an assault rifle and throwing hand grenades.

The mosques were several miles (kilometers) apart from each other, police officer Haider Ashraf said.

Officers outside one of the mosques in the Garhi Shahu district of Lahore were engaged in a fierce gunfight with the attackers, an Associated Press reporter at the scene said.

Pakistan has seen scores of attacks by groups of Islamist militants against government, Western and security force targets over the past three years. Lahore, the second largest city in the country and a vital a military and political center, has been the scene of several.

Many Islamist militants believe it is permissible or honorable to kill non-Muslims, or even those Muslims who do not share their extreme views.

The Ahmadis call themselves Muslims but believe their founder declared himself a prophet centuries after Muhammad, who other Muslims believe was the final prophet. They have long been subject to informal and state-sanctioned discrimination in Pakistan.

The government has declared them a non-Muslim minority and they are prohibited from calling themselves Muslims or engaging in Muslim practices such as reciting Islamic prayers.

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