Pakistani mob kills Sri Lankan over alleged blasphemy

3 December 2021, 16:54

Pakistan Sri Lanka
Pakistan Sri Lanka. Picture: PA

Muslim factory workers had accused the victim of desecrating posters bearing the name of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.

A mob has descended on a sports equipment factory in Pakistan’s eastern Punjab province, killing a Sri Lankan man and burning his body publicly over allegations of blasphemy, police said.

Armagan Gondal, a police chief in the district of Sialkot, said Muslim factory workers had accused the victim of desecrating posters bearing the name of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.

Police said initial information shows Priyantha Kumara was lynched inside the factory.

Pakistan Sri Lanka
The scene of the lynching (Shahid Akram/AP)

Videos on social media showed the mob dragging the man’s heavily bruised body outside, where they burned it, surrounded by hundreds who cheered on the killers.

Senior police officer Omar Saeed Malik said police are still trying to determine what prompted the mob to attack Mr Kumara, whose body was sent to hospital for a post-mortem. A thorough investigation is under way, he said.

In Colombo, Foreign Ministry spokesman Sugeeswara Gunaratne said the Sri Lankan embassy in Islamabad is verifying details of the incident with Pakistani authorities.

“Sri Lanka expects that the Pakistan authorities will take required action to investigate and ensure justice,” he said.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted that the “horrific vigilante attack on factory & the burning alive of Sri Lankan manager is a day of shame for Pakistan”.

He promised a thorough investigation and said those responsible will be severely punished.

Pakistan’s army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa denounced the killing, saying the “cold-blooded murder” was “extremely condemnable and shameful”, and adding: “Such extra-judicial vigilantism cannot be condoned at any cost.”

Pakistan Sri Lanka
Police stand guard outside the mortuary (Shahid Akram/AP)

According to police, more than 100 suspects were arrested over involvement in the attack, which was widely condemned by many Pakistanis.

In the videos, some in the mob are heard chanting a popular slogan of a radical Islamist party, Tehreek-e-Labiak Pakistan, which last month held a violent rally over the publications of caricatures of Islam’s prophet in France.

The party gained prominence in Pakistan’s 2018 elections, campaigning on the single issue of defending the blasphemy law.

Mob attacks on people accused of blasphemy are common in this Islamic nation, although such attacks on foreign nationals are rare.

Charges of blasphemy carry the death penalty under Pakistani law. International and Pakistani rights groups say accusations of blasphemy have often been used to intimidate religious minorities and settle personal scores.

Punjab’s chief minister Usman Buzdar tweeted that he had ordered an investigation into the attack.

Mr Khan’s special adviser on religious affairs, Tahir Ashrafi, condemned the killing and promised stern punishment for those involved.

By Press Association

Latest World News

See more Latest World News

Abortion March for Life

Largest US abortion protest could be last under Roe

M&M’s packets

Mars gives M&M’s a makeover to promote inclusivity

A dose of the Pfizer vaccine is prepared

Booster shots needed against Omicron, new studies show

A soldier lights a torch from the eternal flame

Relocation of war memorial flame causes controversy in India

The town of Futaba in Japan

Former residents return to last town left deserted following Fukushima disaster

Rory Stewart has called on Europe to provide Ukraine with weapons

Europe must 'provide weapons to Ukraine' for defence against Russia, Rory Stewart warns

Matthew Wilson was found with a gunshot wound to the head.

British doctor killed after gun fired 'recklessly' by neighbour as he lay in bed in US

Antony Blinken, left, and Sergey Lavrov in Geneva

US and Russia try to lower temperature amid ‘critical moment’ in Ukraine crisis

People queue to receive a Covid vaccine in Kathmandu, Nepal

Tough restrictions imposed in Nepal amid record number of virus cases

Antony Blinken greets Sergey Lavrov

Top US and Russian diplomats hold talks on Ukraine amid ‘critical moment’

Lisala Folau in Tonga

Tonga’s ‘Aquaman’ describes swim to safety after tsunami swept him out to sea

People wearing protective masks in Tokyo

Japan widens virus restrictions as Omicron variant surges in cities

Czech folk singer Hana Horka has died, her son has confirmed.

Anti-vax Czech singer dies after deliberately contracting coronavirus

Naval exercise in the Indian Ocean

Iran, Russia and China begin joint naval exercise

Marine gear

Search on for humpback whale entangled in debris off Hawaii

Antonio Guterres

Covid, climate and conflict has worsened the world since 2017 – UN chief