Mob attacks Pakistani police, fail to arrest blasphemy suspect
Peshawar A Muslim mob burned down a police station and four police stations overnight in northwest Pakistan after officers refused to extradite a mentally ill man accused of desecrating the Holy Quran, authorities said Monday.
The attacks did not result in any of the officers injured, local officer Asif Khan said, forcing the police to call in troops to restore order in Charsadda district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
A video clip posted on social media showed the police station on fire.
Khan said that the officers thwarted an attempt by the mob to kill the detainee without trial and the police moved him to another area. He did not reveal the man’s name, saying that the officers were still investigating and that the suspect had been arrested the day before.
Khan said the officers initially resisted but fled after thousands of protesters attacked police buildings. He said that the police avoided using force to prevent injuries to the demonstrators. He said the situation in Charsadda was normal on Monday, and law enforcement authorities were seeking to arrest people linked to the attacks.
Blasphemy is punishable by death in Pakistan, where allegations of the crime are often enough to provoke mob violence. International and local rights groups say accusations of blasphemy are often used to intimidate religious minorities and settle personal scores.
In 2017, a group of students at Abdul Wali Khan University in the northwestern city of Mardan attacked and killed another student, Muhammad Mishaal, after he was accused of posting blasphemous content on Facebook.
The governor of Punjab in Islamabad was also shot dead by his guards in 2011, after he defended a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, accused of blasphemy. She was acquitted after spending eight years on death row and receiving threats, and left Pakistan for Canada to join her family.
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