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Baluch Rights Activist Buried In Pakistan Amid Lockdown

Protesters attend a demonstration in Karachi on December 24 after Pakistani human rights activist Karima Baloch was found dead in Toronto two days earlier.

A prominent Pakistani female activist who had campaigned for the rights of the country’s ethnic Baluch minority has been laid to rest in Pakistan’s southwestern province of Balochistan under high security after she died in exile in Canada last month.

Security forces sealed off the village of Tump in the Kech district on January 25, allowing only local villagers to attend Karima Baloch’s funeral on January 25 as mobile services were suspended to prevent her supporters from turning out for her burial.

There was no immediate comment from Pakistani officials.

The 37-year-old activist’s body was found in Toronto on December 22, a day after she was reported missing.

Toronto police have not treated her death as suspicious amid allegations by her supporters that she was killed by Pakistani intelligence agencies.

The Pakistani authorities have not commented on her death.

A vocal critic of the Pakistani security service and state, Baloch had been living in Canada since 2015 after terrorism charges were filed against her in Pakistan.

Also known as Karima Mehrab, she had campaigned against thousands of disappearances in the country’s southwestern province of Balochistan, which has been the scene of a long-running separatist insurgency.

Baloch’s coffin was brought to Pakistan’s port city of Karachi from Canada on January 24.

Activists said they had planned to hold the funeral in the city, but security officials confiscated her body for hours before taking it to her native village.

“This is unacceptable. We want them to hand over her body to us. We don’t need their assistance. We’ve arrange transport ourselves,” Baloch's brother Sameer Mehrab said on Twitter.

He later tweeted that “at this point, my family is being escorted by Pakistani authorities via road through unknown routes out of Karachi.”

“We don’t know where they are heading to. This is what hijacking of a body looks like,” he added.

Baluch activists say thousands of campaigners have gone missing in recent years. The military denies accusations that it is brutally suppressing the region’s aspirations for autonomy.