Thirty-one people were injured and an Ahmadi place of worship was damaged and set on fire following a verbal spat between two groups of youth in Faisalabad's Ghaseet Pura RB-69 area on Thursday evening, area police said on Friday.

According to an FIR registered on behalf of the state by the Balochni police station — in the remits of which the incident took place — the dispute took place at 7:30pm between a group of youth belonging to the Ahmadi community residing in the area and another group from which one person's motorcycle allegedly hit a chicken belonging to the former group.

A heated argument ensued which soon blew out of proportion, according to the police report, which further describes that slogans were raised, shots were fired, stones were pelted, and a nearby Ahmadi place of worship was damaged and set on fire — all in the presence of police officials — causing panic among the residents. Thirty-one people were injured as a result, including six belonging to the Ahmadi community.

Saleemuddin, a spokesperson of the Ahmadi community, told Dawn.com that what began as a verbal altercation "was given a religious colour" and soon turned into a full-blown fight.

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, while addressing a press conference, described the incident as a "personal conflict" and " a law and order situation" between two groups.

A police vehicle on routine patrol received word from Rescue 15 about the fight. The situation was later defused when the superintendent police (SP) and the district police officer (DPO) arrived at the scene and took control. No arrests were made and as many as 70-80 unknown people from either side are on the run, said the police report.

The injured were taken to Allied, Civil and THQ Khorianwala hospitals.

The police recovered 10 spent bullet casings and five spent bullet cartridges from the scene along with burnt materials from within the place of worship as evidence.

A case has been registered under sections 324 (attempt to commit qatl-i-amd), 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs), 436 (mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy house, etc.), 427 (mischief causing damage to the amount of fifty rupees or upwards), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object) of the Pakistan Penal Code and section 7 (punishment for acts of terrorism) of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.

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