Sunday, March 16, 2014 | 6:18 p.m.
KARACHI, Pakistan — An angry crowd set fire to a Hindu community center in southern Pakistan after allegations circulated that a Hindu had desecrated Islam's holy book, police said Sunday.
The incident took place overnight in the city of Larkana in Sindh province after some people said they saw burned pages of the Quran in a garbage bin near the home of a Hindu man, said Anwar Laghari, the area police officer.
Violence triggered by allegations of Quran desecration and other allegedly blasphemous acts is common in conservative Pakistan. A controversial Pakistani law imposes the death penalty, but sometimes crowds take the law into their own hands and attacked the accused, often members of a religious minority in the majority Sunni Muslim state.
Laghari said that a crowd of about 200 angry people gathered and attacked the community center, which was next to a Hindu temple. He said the building was partly gutted, while the alleged desecrater and his family members were taken into protective custody.
The officer said initial investigation revealed that the Hindu rented the house from a Muslim family and cleaned it before he moved in. He may have burned the holy book inadvertently, the policeman said.
Crowds also attacked Hindu property in the nearby towns of Usta Mohammad, Dera Allah Yar and Sohbat Pur, but they were dispersed by police, senior officer Syed Ashfaq Anwar said. They are in a part of adjoining Baluchistan province where significant numbers of Hindus live.
Anwar said dozens attempted to set fire to a temple and some shops owned by Hindus. Police fired tear gas shot and shot into the air. He said someone from the crowd fired at the police, and two civilians and an officer were wounded.
AP writer Abdul Sattar in Quetta, Pakistan, contributed to this report.