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India: Catholic Cathedral damaged in arson attack

Source: Fides

Hindu extremists set fire to the Catholic cathedral of Peter and Paul of Jabalpur, in Madhya Pradesh, on Thursday causing serious damage.

The Indian Episcopal Conference said that the episode occurred in the night and that witnesses saw three people on a motorcycle leaving the area of the cathedral very quickly.

That morning, said the source, the local leader of the Hindu radical group 'Dharma Raksa Sena' (Army for the defense of religion) had threatened to set the church on fire. The building was erected 150 years ago and renovated in 1997 after an earthquake.

Thousands of people have gathered in front of the church demanding the arrest of those responsible and the state has also deployed additional police officers to guard over other churches and convents in the state. Meanwhile, the governor of Madhya Pradesh, Shivraj Singh, is in Jabalpur for the electoral campaign; Singh represents the Bharatiya Janata Party, often a reference point for Hindu radicals.

Other acts of vandalism have concerned other Christian churches in that state and in the states of Kerala and Karnataka in a likely follow-up to the wave of violence that took place last month in Orissa.


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