Attack on Church in Northeast India Roils Christians

IMPHAL, India, APRIL 27, 2005 ( An attack April 19 on a Catholic church at Lamding has aggrieved Christians in the northeast state of Manipur.

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About 200 people armed with sickles, pickets and torches set fire to the church in the town, 21 kilometers (13 miles) from the capital, Imphal.

«The attackers did not like to see a church built in the middle of a predominantly Hindu community,» Coadjutor Archbishop Dominic Lumon of Imphal told AsiaNews.

«The attack has aggrieved Manipur Christians,» he added, noting that a number of Christians marched to the Chief Minister’s Office to call for the arrest of the attackers and to demand that the church be rebuilt with public funds.

The Chief Minister expressed «understanding and solidarity» with the Christian community, the prelate said.

Kesho Khundongbam, deputy inspector with the Imphal police, said: «The police were quick to act, and we arrested four culprits.» He said about 10 Christians were injured as «they desperately tried to prevent the mob from setting fire to their church.»

According to Archbishop Lumon, «Regrettably, there is deep resentment among the indigenous tribals in northeast India. The indigenous tribals claim that the tribals who converted to Christianity over a century ago have divided the tribal community.»

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