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A Muslim mob in Pakistan torches a police station and lynches a man after accusing him of blasphemy

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PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — A Muslim mob in northwestern Pakistan on Thursday broke into a police station, snatched a man who was held there and then lynched him over allegations that he had desecrated Islam’s holy book, the Quran.

The attackers also torched the station in Madyan, a town in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, and burned police vehicles parked there, according to local police official Rahim Ullah.

The slain man, Mohammad Ismail, was a tourist who was staying at a hotel in the town when some locals turned on him and accused him of blasphemy.

Ullah said police officers took the man to the station for his protection but the mob swelled and pursued them. The mob then attacked the station, snatched Ismail, beat him to death and then burned his body and left it on the road.

Additional police forces have arrived in Madyan to bring the situation under control, Ullah said.

It wasn’t immediately known if any of the attackers were arrested.

Attacks on people accused of blasphemy are common in this conservative Islamic nation where charges of blasphemy can carry the death sentence. International and national rights groups say blasphemy accusations have often been used to intimidate religious minorities and settle personal scores.

Last month, a mob in Pakistan’s eastern Punjab province attacked a Christian man, Nazir Masih, 72, after accusing him of desecrating pages of Quran. He later died at a hospital.