3 Pakistani women confess to killing man over alleged blasphemy

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ISLAMABAD — Three female friends in a rare incident confessed on Friday to killing a man for insulting Islam”s Prophet Muhammad days after he returned from living in hiding abroad for 13 years, police said.

A local police inspector investigating the case, Nadeem Ashraf, told The Associated Press that the women were arrested this week for killing Fazal Abbas, about 50, who fled Pakistan in 2004 following accusations of blasphemy.

The incident came days after a mob in the northwestern city of Mardan lynched a university student, Mohammad Mashal Khan, over alleged blasphemy, drawing nationwide condemnation. Police detained 22 suspects following the incident.

Ashraf said the three women went to the man”s home in a village near the town of Pasrur in Punjab province on Wednesday and shot him dead. He said the women wanted to fire a shot each to kill Abbas, but only one fired a single shot.

Ashraf identified the women as Afshan Bibi, Razia Bibi and Amna Bibi, and reported them as saying that they would have killed Abbas earlier had he not fled the country.

Ashraf said Abbas was being sought by police in connection with a blasphemy case dating back to 2004.

Also Friday, a mob tried to kill a mentally disturbed man, Syed Abdul Rashid, inside a mosque after he declared that all Muslims should follow him as he has been appointed as their religious leader by God, according to local police official Asad Ullah.

Ullah said initially worshippers beat Rashid, but the Imam leading prayer intervened and handed the man over to the police. Ullah said hundreds of people attacked the police station as the man was being questioned inside, and some officers were wounded in the clashes.

“These people attacked the police station in Chitral and started beating our officers when they refused to hand over Syed Abdul Rashid to them,” he said.

Blasphemy against Islam is punishable by death under Pakistani law, and the mere suspicion of blasphemy is enough to ignite mob violence in the Muslim-majority country.

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Associated Press Writer Riaz Khan in Peshawar, Pakistan, contributed to this report.