Cops identify 5 members of group which attacked Christians

 Police in western Maharashtra have identified five members of a radical group which attacked a Christian gathering in Kolhapur district, an official said Thursday.

The group members hail from Belgaum city and rural area in Karnataka, police said.

“We have identified at least five members of the group with the help of CCTV footage. We have their names and addresses and are search for them,” Superintendent of Police, Kolhapur, Abhinav Deshmukh, told.

Police formed several teams, including one from the crime branch, to investigate the case, Deshmukh said. “We are seeking help of the Karnataka police as well,” he added.

A Christian gathering was attacked on December 23 during Sunday prayers in a small village in Kolhapur district.

The incident took place at the New Life Church in Kowad village ahead of Christmas.

A group of around 40 people was offering prayers when around 15-20 people barged into the church. With their faces covered, they threatened the victims and attacked them. Twelve people were injured in the attack.

Armed with swords, iron rods and glass bottles, the group pelted stones at those attending the prayer.Some women, who were part of the prayer meet, forced the attackers to back off by throwing chilly powder on them, an official said.

A delegation of Christian community members Wednesday met Deshmukh and the resident district collector, demanding that security of the community be ensured.

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