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Body of Sri Lankan killed by Pakistan mob over alleged blasphemy flown home

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Pakistan on Monday repatriated the remains of a Sri Lankan factory manager who was beaten to death and set ablaze by a mob after they accused him of blasphemy.

The vigilante attack has sparked outrage, with Prime Minister Imran Khan calling it a “day of shame for Pakistan.”

Few issues are as galvanizing in the country as blasphemy, and even the slightest suggestion of an insult to Islam can supercharge protests and incite lynching.

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Priyantha Diyawadana was killed on Friday in the central district of Sialkot, in Punjab province, about 200 kilometers (125 miles) southeast of the capital Islamabad.

“The dead body of the Sri Lankan manager has been airlifted and sent to Colombo,” Tahir Ashrafi, a religious scholar and special representative of the prime minister on religious harmony, told AFP.

Police have so far arrested 131 people including 26 prime suspects who have been remanded in custody, Sialkot police spokesman Khurram Shehzad told AFP.

Several gruesome video clips shared on social media showed a mob beating the prone victim while chanting slogans against blasphemy.

Many in the crowd made no attempt to hide their identity and some took selfies in front of the burning corpse.

However prime minister Khan announced a bravery medal would be awarded to a man who had attempted to save Diyawadana, endangering his own life.

It will be the first time that a person has received the award in a case linked to blasphemy.

Local police officials told AFP that rumors spread that Diyawadana had “torn down a religious poster and thrown it in the dustbin”

Ashrafi told AFP that workers had also complained of the manager being “very strict.”

“Police experts are investigating this case from various angles, including that some factory workers played a religious card to take revenge on the manager,” he said at the weekend.

Rights groups say accusations of blasphemy can often be wielded to settle personal vendettas, with minorities largely the target.

A Christian couple was lynched then burnt in a kiln in Punjab in 2014 after being falsely accused of desecrating the Koran.

In April 2017 an angry mob killed university student Mashal Khan when he was accused of posting blasphemous content online.

And only last month, thousands of people torched a police station in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province after demanding officers hand over a man accused of burning the Koran.

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US considering moving troops from Western Europe to Eastern Europe: NATO diplomat

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The United States is considering transferring some troops stationed in Western Europe to Eastern Europe in the coming weeks, a NATO diplomat told Reuters, amid escalating tensions between Ukraine and Russia.

“This has to do with American troops that are already in Europe,” the diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirming a New York Times report that said US President Joe Biden was considering sending US troops to the Baltics and Eastern European allies.

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NATO said on Monday it was putting forces on standby and reinforcing eastern Europe with more ships and fighter jets, in what Russia denounced as an escalation of tensions over Ukraine.

The diplomat said the potential troop movements would be gradual and that any filling of NATO gaps on its eastern flank could take place in the coming weeks.

Read more: From Kyiv, top US diplomat warns Russia against Ukraine aggression

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Several wounded in shooting in German city; gunman dead

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A lone gunman wounded several people at a lecture theater in the southwestern German city of Heidelberg on Monday, police said.

Police said in a brief statement that the perpetrator was dead, but didn’t give details of how that happened. They had earlier asked people on Twitter to avoid the Neuenheimer Feld area of Heidelberg, where the city’s university campus is located.

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Police didn’t specify how many people were wounded, or how seriously, and there was no information on their identities or that of the suspected shooter. The university’s press office declined to give any details on the shooting and referred all inquiries to police.

German news agency dpa cited unidentified security sources as saying that the gunman killed himself.

Police said the weapon used in the shooting was a long-barreled firearm.

Heidelberg is located south of Frankfurt and has about 160,000 inhabitants. Its university is one of Germany’s best-known.

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Aramco CEO says oil demand nearing pre-pandemic levels: Report

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Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Al Nasser said that the demand for oil is nearing pre-pandemic levels, Asharq Business reported in a tweet on Monday.

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