‘Blasphemy’: Journalism student killed in Pakistan for Facebook posts

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A journalism student was shot dead and another seriously injured by a large vigilante mob comprising fellow students at the Abdul Wali Khan University (AWKU) in Pakistan’s Mardan town on Thursday after accusations of blasphemy.

The deceased was identified as Mashal Khan. According to Dawn newspaper report quoting local police, the mob attack at the university premises was for “allegedly publishing blasphemous content online.”

Alam Shinwari, Mardan Deputy Inspector General of Police, said the dead student was accused of running Facebook pages which allegedly published blasphemous content.

He was assaulted by a mob of students and appears to have succumbed to a gunshot wound, he said.

An eyewitness said Mashal and Abdullah, the two Mass Communication students, were attacked because they were believed to be “promoting the Ahmadi faith on Facebook”.

The police reached the site of the attack and rescued Abdullah, but Mashal, who was in the hostel at the time, was beaten and shot by the mob and succumbed to the injuries he received.

Video footage showed men kicking his lifeless body and beating it with sticks.

Dawn quoted a student who claimed that several leaders of the university’s student bodies were part of the mob.

The police later arrested 15 people in connection with the incident and the campus was shut down until further notice. Hostels were ordered closed and a search has been launched for the remaining suspects.

Those found guilty of blasphemy are given the death penalty in Pakistan and there have been many cases of vigilante action against alleged suspects.

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