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Gunmen On Motorcycle Shoot Lawyer Dead in Northwestern Pakistan


Police say unidentified gunmen have shot dead a lawyer in Pakistan's northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Bannu police spokesman Asif Hassan told RFE/RL that the lawyer, Bashir Rahman Burki, was on his way home from a local court in the city of Bannu on June 14 when two men on a motorcycle opened fire and killed him.

Hassan said the gunmen escaped after the attack. He said police have launched an investigation.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the killing.

A brother of Burki told RFE/RL that his family had no enemies in the area.

Bannu is located close to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's North Waziristan tribal district, which was once a stronghold of the Pakistani Taliban.

Separately, a Pakistani lawyer who won acquittal for a Christian couple on blasphemy charges has asked for a security detail after he received death threats by Muslim extremists.

Shafqat Emmanuel Masih and his wife, Shughufta Kausar Masih, had spent eight years on death row while waiting for a court to hear their appeal against an earlier blasphemy conviction.

The trial court had convicted the couple on flimsy evidence linking them to an English-language text message that had been sent to a local Islamic cleric. The couple is illiterate in their own language and does not speak English.

Their attorney, Saiful Mulook, said on June 14 that he and his family have been threatened repeatedly since a court earlier in June overturned the couple's conviction.

The ruling came after a debate in the European Parliament highlighted the plight of the Christian couple along with serious systemic faults in the application of Pakistan's blasphemy laws.

Pakistan's Bar Council, the biggest union of lawyers in the country, has condemned the threats to Mulook and called on the government to ensure his security.

Mulook also faced death threats from Islamic extremists when he defended Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who spent almost a decade on death row after she'd been wrongly accused of blasphemy. Her plight also drew global attention to Pakistan’s controversial laws.

Bibi was acquitted in 2018 but had to relocate to Canada due to threats to her life.

Mulook fled to the Netherlands in 2018 but returned to Pakistan a year later and volunteered to defend Masih and his wife.

With reporting by dpa
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