The tortured body of an 11 year old Christian boy has been found in a town in Punjab, Pakistan, days after a young Christian girl was arrested on blasphemy charges.
Detectives in Faisalabad, around 60 miles from Lahore, said they were investigating whether accusations of blasphemy had also been made against the boy.
Human rights campaigners condemned the killing of Samuel Yaqoob whose burned and tortured body body was discovered on Eid, the celebration which marks the end of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan.
His lips and nose had been sliced off, his stomach removed and there was evidence that his legs had been mutilated too.
The boy had been missing since Monday when he left his home in the town’s Christian Colony to visit a local market. His relatives identified his body from a distinctive mark on his forehead.
Yaquub was reported to be an orphan but in local newspaper reports his mother Asia Bibi was quoted denying he had been accused of blasphemy. “We neither received any phone call for ransom nor were we told that Samuel had committed blasphemy,” she said.
Police said they were investigating whether blasphemy had been behind the attack on Samuel. His death comes just days after the arrest of Rimsha Masih, an eleven year old girl with Down’s Syndrome, after Muslims in Islamabad accused her of burning pages from the Koran for cooking.
President Asif Zardari intervened in the case after dozens of Christians fled their homes fearing violence. He said the country’s controversial blasphemy laws, in which those guilty of insulting Islam face the death penalty, must not be misused to settle scores.
The country’s leading human rights campaigner Ansar Burney said he had “strongly condemned the brutal murder” of Samuel Yaqoob who had been killed “mercilessly”.