KARACHI, Pakistan – A mob in southern Pakistan stormed a police station to seize a mentally unstable Muslim man accused of burning a copy of Islam's holy book, beat him to death, and then set his body afire, police said Saturday.
The case is likely to raise further concerns about the country's harsh blasphemy laws, which can result in a death sentence or life in prison to anyone found guilty. Critics say an accusation or investigation alone can lead to deaths, as people take the law into their own hands and kill those accused of violating it. Police stations and even courts have been attacked by mobs.
Local police official Bihar-ud-Din said police arrested the man on Friday after being informed by residents that he had burned a Koran inside a mosque where he had been staying for a night.
An angry mob of more than 200 people then broke into the police station in the southern town of Dadu and took the accused man, who they say was under questioning. Din said police tried their best to save the man's life but were unable to stop the furious crowd.
He said that police had arrested 30 people for suspected involvement in the attack, while the head of the local police station and seven officers had been suspended.
Past attempts by governments in predominantly Muslim Pakistan to review these laws have met with violent opposition from hardline Islamist parties.