Pakistani man accused of blasphemy killed in police lockup

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An elderly man accused of blasphemy was killed in a Pakistani police station, officials said Saturday.

Khalil Ahmed, 65, from the minority Ahmadiyya community, was arrested on May 12 in the eastern province of Punjab after a local shopkeeper accused him of having insulted Islam.

A man dressed in police uniform came to the station Friday to meet Ahmad, a police official said on condition of anonymity. "On seeing the accused, he killed him with his shotgun," he said.

Police arrested the attacker. His religious affiliation was not immediately known. Three teenagers also arrested for blasphemy with victim had already released on bail, another officer said.

Pakistan's blasphemy laws were introduced by former military ruler Zia ul-Haq in the 1980s to appease religious parties, but there is growing criticism about abuse of the legislation. Successive governments have failed to change the laws due to the threat of reaction from the extremist groups.

Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer and former Christian minister Shahbaz Bhatti were killed in 2011 for criticizing the blasphemy laws.

On Tuesday, police charged 68 lawyers for profanity during a protest against local police in the Jhang district of Punjab. Ahmadiyya do not concur with the central mainstream principle that the prophet Mohammed is the final messenger of God. The community was declared non-Muslim by Pakistan's parliament in early 1974. They frequently suffer at the hands of extremists in the country.

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