A mob reportedly dragged a Pakistani man accused of desecrating a Quran in public from a police station, beat him to death and then burnt his body.
The Associated Press cited a police officer as saying the killing took place Tuesday in the "deeply conservative" Punjab province in central Pakistan, in a city called Bahawalpur.
Hundreds of madrassas, or religious schools, run by radical Islamist groups are located there, according to the BBC.
Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, the AP points out, allow for anyone who insults the Prophet Muhammad or the Quran to be sentenced to death. However, the sentence is reportedly rarely carried out.
However, according to most media reports, the accused man was mentally unstable and, according to one quoted police officer, "not aware of even the location of his residence."
Agence France-Presse quoted local police chief Ghulam Mohiuddin as saying the man, Ghulam Abbas, in his early 40s, was arrested after being caught burning pages of the Islamic holy book.
"After some time, more than 2,000 people surrounded the police station and asked the police to hand over the man to them, and upon refusal they ransacked the police station and took the accused with them," Mohiuddin said, AFP reported.
"The protesters also set fire to several motorcycles and vehicles parked in the police station and damaged the quarters of police officials.
"Later they took away Ghulam Abbas to a main crossing, beat him to death and set his body on fire."
The independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan had reportedly demanded an inquiry into the killing.
AFP quoted the commission as saying it "strongly condemns not only the burning to death of a man in Bahawalpur, who had been accused of desecrating pages of the Koran, but also the authorities' failure to prevent a horrendous crime that was not at all unexpected."
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