Man accused of blasphemy stoned to death by mob in Pakistan

Mian Mohammad Ramzan the mosque custodian gestures as he briefs police officers regarding the stoning to death of Mushtaq Ahmed in Tulamba, eastern Pakistan, Sunday, Feb. 13, 2022. (AP)
Mian Mohammad Ramzan the mosque custodian gestures as he briefs police officers regarding the stoning to death of Mushtaq Ahmed in Tulamba, eastern Pakistan, Sunday, Feb. 13, 2022. (AP)
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Updated 14 February 2022

Man accused of blasphemy stoned to death by mob in Pakistan

Mian Mohammad Ramzan the mosque custodian gestures as he briefs police officers regarding the stoning to death of Mushtaq Ahmed in Tulamba, eastern Pakistan, Sunday, Feb. 13, 2022. (AP)
  • The ill-fated man has been mentally unstable for the last 15 years and according to his family often went missing from home for days begging and eating whatever he could find,” he said

MULTAN, Pakistan: An enraged mob stoned to death a middle-aged man for allegedly desecrating the Qur’an in a remote village in eastern Pakistan, police said Sunday.
The custodian of a local mosque said he saw the man burning the Muslim holy book inside the mosque Saturday evening and told others before informing police, according to police spokesman Chaudhry Imran. The violence took place in a village in the district of Khanewal in Punjab province.
Imran said police rushed to the scene, where a man was found surrounded by an angry crowd. Officer Mohammad Iqbal and two subordinates tried to take custody of the man but the group began throwing stones at them, seriously injuring Iqbal and slightly injuring the other two officers.
Munawar Gujjar, chief of Tulamba police station, said he rushed reinforcements to the mosque but they did not arrive before the mob had stoned to death the man and hung his body from a tree.
Gujjar said the victim was identified as Mushtaq Ahmed, 41, of a nearby village.
“The ill-fated man has been mentally unstable for the last 15 years and according to his family often went missing from home for days begging and eating whatever he could find,” he said. He said the body was handed over to the family.
Mian Mohammad Ramzan, the mosque custodian, said he saw smoke inside the mosque, which is adjacent to his home, and rushed over to investigate. He found one Qur’an burned and saw a man attempting to burn another. He said people were starting to arrive for evening prayers as he was shouting for the man to stop.
Witnesses said a police team that reached the village before the stoning began took custody of a man but the mob snatched him away from them and beat the police as they tried to rescue him.
Later, more officers and constables reached the scene and took custody of the body, they said.
Gujjar, the area police chief, said investigators were scanning available videos to try to identify the assailants. He said police had so far detained about 80 men living in the mosque’s surroundings but that about 300 suspects took part.
Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed his anguish over the incident and said he was seeking a report from Punjab’s chief minister on the police handling of the case. He said they “failed in their duty.”
“We have zero tolerance for anyone taking the law into their own hands and mob lynching will be dealt with with the full severity of the law,” he said in a tweet hours after the incident.
Khan also asked the Punjab police chief for a report on the actions taken against perpetrators of the lynching.
The killing comes months after the lynching of a Sri Lankan manager of a sporting goods factory in Sialkot in Punjab province on Dec. 3 who was accused by workers of blasphemy.
Mob attacks on people accused of blasphemy are common in this conservative Islamic nation. International and national rights groups say blasphemy accusations have often been used to intimidate religious minorities and settle personal scores. Blasphemy is punishable by death in Pakistan.

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GENEVA: The UN refugee agency said Tuesday it’s giving its highest award to former German Chancellor Angela Merkel for her efforts to welcome more than 1 million refugees — mostly from Syria — into Germany, despite some criticism both at home and abroad.
Matthew Saltmarsh, spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said Merkel had been selected as the latest recipient for the Nansen award, which is handed out annually by the Geneva-based UN agency.
“Under the then-Federal Chancellor Merkel’s leadership, Germany welcomed more than 1.2 million refugees and asylum-seekers in 2015 and 2016, which, as you will remember, was the height of the conflict in Syria, and there was deadly violence in other parts of the world,” Saltmarsh told reporters. “Dr. Merkel helped to highlight the plight of refugees globally.”
Merkel’s decision to let in so many migrants boosted the far-right Alternative for Germany party and resulted in protests by a vocal minority. She was also blasted by some governments for being too friendly to refugees, when some European Union partner states were closing borders to refugees and asylum-seekers.
The award includes a $150,000 prize. Merkel is expected to travel to Geneva next Monday to receive the award, Saltmarsh said. Four regional winners were also announced.
The UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award honors individuals, groups or organizations that go “above and beyond the call of duty” to protect refugees, other displaced and stateless people, the agency says.
More than 60 laureates have received the award since it was founded in 1954 to celebrate Fridtjof Nansen, a Norwegian scientist, explorer and diplomat who was the first commissioner for refugees in the League of Nations — the predecessor of the the United Nations
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MOSCOW: The upper house of Russia’s parliament voted on Tuesday to approve the incorporation of four Ukrainian regions into Russia, as Moscow sets about formally annexing territory it sized from Kyiv during its seven-month conflict.
In a session on Tuesday, the Federation Council unanimously ratified legislation to annex the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine, following a similar vote in the State Duma, Russia’s lower house, yesterday.
The documents now pass back to the Kremlin for President Vladimir Putin’s final signature to complete the process of formally annexing the four regions, representing around 18 percent of Ukraine’s internationally-recognized territory.
Russia declared the annexations after holding what it called referendums in occupied areas of Ukraine. Western governments and Kyiv said the votes breached international law and were coercive and non-representative.

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MALANG, Indonesia: The death toll from an Indonesian football riot that turned into a stampede rose by six to 131 on Tuesday, a local health official said.
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The police chief in Indonesia’s East Java province where a stadium tragedy left 131 dead at the weekend apologized Tuesday for the disaster.
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Prison chief killed in Indian Kashmir, militants claim responsibility

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Updated 04 October 2022

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  • Body of Hemant Kumar Lohia was found at his home on Monday night in the Jammu region
  • Muslim-majority Kashmir is divided between mostly Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan which both claim it in full

SRINAGAR: The chief of the prison service in Indian Kashmir has been murdered, police said on Tuesday, as the powerful interior minister visited the disputed Himalayan region that has been riven by a decades-long insurgency.
The body of Hemant Kumar Lohia, 57, the region’s director general of prisons, was found at his home on Monday night in the Jammu region, police said.
Police said a household helper was the main suspect but an Islamist militant group said it had targeted and killed Lohia.
Muslim-majority Kashmir is divided between mostly Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan which both claim it in full.
Separatist Muslim groups have fought against Indian security forces in its part of Kashmir since the late 1980s.
Senior police officer Mukesh Singh said Lohia’s throat had been cut and his body bore burns. The initial investigation suggested it was not a “terror act” but police were investigating, he said.
The People’s Anti-Fascist Front (PAFF), a militant group that emerged after India’s government reorganized its only Muslim-majority state into two federally administered territories in 2019, said it had assassinated Lohia.
Police have blamed groups like the PAFF for targeted killing but militants have not killed any security official of Lohia’s seniority in recent years.
“This is just a beginning of such high profile operations,” the PAFF said in a statement on social media, adding that the killing were a “small gift” to Home Minister Amit Shah, who arrived in Kashmir on Monday on a three-day visit.
Reuters could not immediately verify the authenticity of the PAFF statement.


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  • The last time North Korea fired a missile over Japan was reportedly in 2017
  • Tokyo also confirmed the launch of a suspected ballistic missile by Pyongyang

SEOUL: North Korea fired a mid-range ballistic missile Tuesday which flew over Japan, Seoul and Tokyo said, a significant escalation as Pyongyang ramps up its record-breaking weapons-testing blitz.
The last time North Korea fired a missile over Japan was reportedly in 2017, at the height of a period of “fire and fury” when Pyongyang’s leader Kim Jong Un traded insults with then-US president Donald Trump.
South Korea’s military said it had “detected one suspected medium-range ballistic missile that was launched from Mupyong-ri area of Jagang Province at around 7:23 am (22:23 GMT) today and passed over Japan in the eastern direction.”
In a statement, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said the military was “maintaining a full readiness posture and closely cooperating with the United States while strengthening surveillance and vigilance.”
Tokyo also confirmed the launch of a suspected ballistic missile by Pyongyang, activating the country’s missile alert warning system and issuing evacuation warnings.
“A ballistic missile is believed to have passed over our country and fallen in the Pacific Ocean. This is an act of violence following recent repeated launches of ballistic missiles. We strongly condemn this,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters.
With talks long-stalled, nuclear-armed North Korea has doubled down on Kim’s military modernization plans this year, testing a string of banned weaponry, including an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) for the first time since 2017.
Last week, Pyongyang fired short-range ballistic missiles on four occasions, including just hours after US Vice President Kamala Harris flew out of Seoul.
The latest bout of intense weapons testing by Pyongyang comes as Seoul, Tokyo and Washington ramp up joint military drills to counter growing threats from the North.
South Korea, Japan and the United States staged anti-submarine drills Friday — the first in five years — just days after Washington and Seoul’s navies conducted large-scale exercises in waters off the peninsula.
Such drills infuriate North Korea, which sees them as rehearsals for an invasion.
Harris toured the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone that divides the peninsula while on a trip that aimed to underscore her country’s “ironclad” commitment to South Korea’s defense against the North.
Washington has stationed about 28,500 troops in South Korea to help protect it from the North.
“If Pyongyang has fired a missile over Japan, that would represent a significant escalation over its recent provocations,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul.
“Pyongyang is still in the middle of a provocation and testing cycle,” he said.
“The Kim regime is developing weapons such as tactical nuclear warheads and submarine-launched ballistic missiles as part of a long-term strategy to outrun South Korea in an arms race and drive wedges among US allies,” he added.
South Korean and US officials have also been warning for months that Kim was preparing to conduct another nuclear test.
The officials said they believed this could happen soon after China’s upcoming party congress on October 16.
North Korea, which is under multiple UN sanctions for its weapons programs, typically seeks to maximize the geopolitical impact of its tests with careful timing.
The isolated country has tested nuclear weapons six times since 2006, most recently in 2017.