Pakistani police arrested 14 people in overnight raids after a Hindu temple was set on fire and demolished by a mob led by supporters of a radical Islamist party, officials said Thursday.
The temple’s destruction on Wednesday in the northwestern town of Karak drew condemnation from human rights activists and the minority Hindu community.
Local police said they detained at least 14 people in overnight raids and more raids were under way to arrest individuals who participated or provoked the mob to demolish the temple.
The attack happened after members of the Hindu community received permission from local authorities to renovate the temple.
According to witnesses, the mob was led by a local cleric and supporters of Pakistan’s radical Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party.
Minister for religious affairs Noorul Haq Qadri called the attack on the temple “a conspiracy against sectarian harmony”. He took to Twitter on Thursday, saying attacks on places of worship of minority religious groups are not allowed in Islam and “protection of religious freedom of minorities is our religious, constitutional, moral and national responsibility”.
The incident comes weeks after the government allowed Hindu residents to build a new temple in Islamabad on the recommendation of a council of clerics.
Although Muslims and Hindus generally live peacefully together in Pakistan, there have been other attacks on Hindu temples in recent years.