Hundreds of Muslims descended on a police station in Pakistan’s eastern Punjab province Saturday, snatched a blasphemy suspect from his cell and took him outside and lynched him, police said.
Senior police officer Babar Sarfaraz Alpa said a man identified only as Waris had been in police custody for desecrating pages of a copy of Islam’s holy book, the Quran. He said Waris pasted images of himself, his wife and a knife on several pages of the book, displayed them and threw them about in the rural district of Nankana.
Charges of blasphemy carry the death penalty under Pakistani law.
Senior police officer Alpa said an enraged mob of hundreds stormed the Warburton police station where some protesters used a wooden ladder to climb a wall and opened the main gate for the angry mob.
Alpa said the group ransacked the entire police station and took Waris from his cell.
“By the time police reinforcement could reach the scene the mob lynched the man and were about to burn his body. But police with the help of saner people in the area foiled their attempt,” he said.
Pakistan has seen religious attacks proliferate since the Pakistani Taliban, or Tehreek-e-Taliban-e-Pakistan (TTP) gained strength since the Afghan Taliban retook control of the neighboring country in August 2021. The TTP are a separate group to the Afghan Taliban, but they are close allies.
The TTP has waged an insurgency in Pakistan for 15 years, fighting for stricter enforcement of Islamic laws in the country, the release of members in government custody and a reduction of Pakistani military presence in the country’s former tribal regions.
In Jan. the group took responsibility for a suicide bomber attack inside a mosque packed with Pakistani police in the northwest city of Peshawar, killing almost 60 people and wounding scores more, officials said.
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