LAHORE - City’s largest Christian neighbourhood – Youhanabad – was sealed off on Tuesday, as members of the community buried  the victims of suicide bomb attacks amid tears and rage.

Some 5,000 police and paramilitary troops were put on their toes to maintain peace in the locality, which witnessed violent clashes between protesting Christians and the anti-riot police for two days.

Sunday’s bombing of two churches ignited violent protests, which spread to the most populous divisional headquarters of Gujranwala, Sargodha, and Faisalabad on Monday. The twin bombing led to riots in Youhanabad and its adjacent areas as members of the community lynched two men.

The death toll swelled to 17 as another victim of suicide bombings succumbed to wounds at the Lahore General Hospital (LGH) late Monday. Over 75 others wounded when two suicide bombers unleashed the attack at the churches – St John's Church and Christ Church.

After two-day long clashes, the mood in the area was tense but nonviolent. Elite police commandoes and Pakistan Ranger personnel were deployed in every nook and corner of the neighbourhood that was closed off with rails and barbed wire. Police patrolling on gun-fitted vehicles was also intensified in the entire vicinity.

Shops and businesses were shut in the area as grief-stricken relatives made their way towards burial grounds. Leaders of the community appealed for calm as the funeral of the victims taken towards the graveyards. They also pledged that a memorial would be built in honour of those died in the terror strikes.

The security was so tight that no one was allowed to leave or enter the vicinity where funerals of ten victims were taking place. The authorities on Tuesday ordered reopening of one of the busiest arteries, Ferozepur Road, which links Lahore to district Kasur.

Lahore police also did a flag-march in some parts of the provincial metropolis on Tuesday. A police spokesperson said that the exercise was carried out to improve a sense of security among the citizens. More than 150 police commandoes riding on 20 vehicles and 50 motorcycles took part in the flag march.

A day earlier, thousands of Christians rallied in Lahore, blocking roads, attacking Metro bus stations, and shouting anti-government slogans in a second day of protests against the bombings. The bomb attacks sparked ‘mob justice’ as two suspects were lynched by the Christians. One of them was identified as a glasscutter Muhammad Naeem. Police are yet to ascertain the identity of the other. The body of Naeem was taken to his native town in Kasur district on Tuesday where he was buried amid tears and screaming, according to a local news channel.

A murder case was registered with the Nishtar Colony police against unidentified culprits for killing Muhammad Naeem after Youhanabad attacks. The police have filed the case on the complaint of Saleem, the brother of the deceased.

The government on Monday held a series of negotiations with the leaders of the Christian community. The PML-N leader and former Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan who led the talks told reporters that the government team held successful talks.

Rana also made it clear that those involved in ransacking and lynching of two men would not be spared. The Christian leaders have also asked their people to remain peaceful and end their protest and do not take law into law by damaging the public and private properties.

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has ordered immediate arrest of those involved in lynching of two men. The CM has ordered Deputy Inspector General (Operations) Haider Ashraf to get the footage from the media, identify the attackers and bring the culprits to justice. The provincial government has also constituted a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to probe in the Youhanabad tragedy. Headed by Lahore DIG (Investigation) the JIT is comprised of officers from the leading the intelligence agencies. Further investigations were underway.