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Pakistani accused of desecrating Qur’an killed by angry villagers

KARACHI: An angry mob stormed a police station in southern Pakistan, dragged off a man held for allegedly desecrating the Qur’an and beat him to death, police said yesterday.
The crowd of hundreds of villagers set the body of the man, believed to be mentally unstable, on fire after killing him on Friday in Dadu district of Sindh province, police said.
Some 30 suspects have been arrested over the attack on the man, whom police have not named, they said.
It is the latest case to highlight the sensitivity of blasphemy in Pakistan, where 97 percent of the population are Muslims and insulting the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, can be punished by death.
The violence in Seeta village was sparked when “people in surrounding villages learned that a man had burned copies of the holy Qur’an,” local police official Usman Ghani told AFP. “They took him away, beat him severely and then burned him.”
Police detained him on Friday after people claimed to have found him burning copies of the Qur’an in the mosque in Seeta, Abdullah Memon, a resident of the village, told AFP.
“They caught him and handed over to police on Friday morning,” Memon said.
Police believe the man was mentally unstable as they were unable to get him to tell them basic facts, such as his name and address, when they took him into custody, Ghani said.
Some of the attackers filmed the man being beaten and burned on the cameras of their mobile phones, said police. “The only evidence we have at this point are the video clips that some attackers made on their cell phones of the incident, which include beating and burning,” said Ghani.
“The investigation is proceeding and we are determined to catch the culprits,” added Inspector General Fayyaz Leghari.
The issue of Pakistan’s harsh blasphemy laws drew worldwide attention earlier this year when a Christian girl, Rimsha Masih, was arrested over claims that she burned papers printed with verses from the Qur’an.
She spent three weeks on remand in one of Pakistan’s toughest prisons after being detained on August 16. A court threw out all charges against her last month.