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Pakistani Women Kill Man Accused Of Blasphemy, Police Say

Members of the Awami Workers Party hold pictures with the name of student Mashal Khan during a demonstration in Karachi on April 18.

Pakistani police say three women dressed in burqas killed a man who had been accused of blasphemy in 2004 in a northeastern Pakistani town -- the second murder over alleged insults to Islam in a week.

The three young women have confessed to the killing, police said April 20.

Fazal Abbas, who was in his 50s and belonged to the minority Shi'ite sect, was gunned down at home in what his family have called a sectarian hate crime.

Abbas had fled Pakistan in 2004 after being charged with committing blasphemy, but returned earlier this year to fight the case and was granted bail, police said.

The women -- apparently sisters -- entered Abbas's home in the small city of Sialkot on April 19, and one of them shot him in the chest, police said.

A relative of the victim said the attacker, whose name is Afshan, was known to the family and was a lecturer at a seminary connected to the anti-Shi'ite militant group Lashkar-e Jhangvi.

The family said that Abbas was the victim of a blasphemy case targeting him because he belongs to the minority Shi'ite sect, who make up around one-fifth of Pakistan's Muslim population of 200 million.

Police official Mohammad Farooq said the women had confessed and were in custody.

The latest killing came in the wake of a government drive to prosecute blasphemy, a hugely sensitive charge in conservative Muslim Pakistan.

Last week (April 13) a mob beat student Mashal Khan to death when blasphemy accusations spread across a university campus in the northern city of Mardan.

Police are now investigating a number of university students and faculty for their involvement in the attack.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AFP, and