Man accused of blasphemy killed in Pak

Islamabad, Mar 5: A man who was accused of blasphemy was shot dead by unidentified gunmen on the outskirts of the Pakistani garrison city of Rawalpindi, two days after Minority Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti was killed by militants for opposing the controversial blasphemy law.

Mohammad Imran, who was booked for blasphemy with his friend Sajid Mehmood in April 2009, was killed by three masked gunmen in a shop in Danda village on the outskirts of Rawalpindi yesterday.

Imran and Mehmood were arrested in the blasphemy case and released from jail in February last year after the prosecution failed to produce any witnesses against them in court.

Sub-Inspector Mehmood Ahmed, who is investigating the murder, said two of the gunmen entered the shop while the third stayed outside.

"After spotting their target, they opened fire, killing Imran on the spot, and escaped," he told Dawn newspaper.

Mohammad Akram, the elder brother of Imran, said in his complaint to police that he suspected one Imdad Hussain was behind the murder.

Akram said the attackers were those who had sent his brother to jail in a concocted case.

Police have not made any arrest so far.

Akram said his brother''s rivals had filed a petition in the Rawalpindi bench of Lahore High Court challenging his release.

He said Imran, who had a wife and a daughter, had been facing financial problems since he was involved in the case.

Imran and Mehmood were booked by police for blasphemy after a man named Asif Fareed lodged a complaint with police against them.

Minority Affairs Minister Bhatti, the only Christian member of Pakistan''s Cabinet, was gunned down near his residence here on Wednesday.

The banned Taliban claimed responsibility for the killing, saying he was assassinated for opposing the blasphemy law.


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