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Pakistan, Afghanistan condemn Charlie Hebdo killings

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thursday condemned an attack on a French magazine that has outraged many Muslims for its irreverent cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed (P.B.U.H),” despite its own tough laws forbidding blasphemy.

Masked gunmen burst into the offices of the Paris headquarters of Charlie Hebdo magazine on Wednesday morning, killing 12 people including some of France’s most outspoken journalists, in the country’s bloodiest attack in half a century.

“Pakistan condemns the brutal terrorist attack in Paris that resulted in the loss of many lives and has left several others injured,” Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

“Pakistan deplores terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. We extend our condolences to the government and people of France on the loss of life.”

Islamabad’s condemnation comes at a time when blasphemy laws are being increasingly invoked against Pakistan’s beleaguered minorities, with rights groups claiming they are abused to settle personal scores.

A US government report last year found Pakistan’s use of laws forbidding any insult to Islam or the Prophet Mohammed was “incomparable” to any other country, listing 14 people on death row.

In neighbouring Afghanistan, where rallies were held against the same magazine in 2012, President Ashraf Ghani branded the attack as “heinous”.

“Killing of defenceless people and civilians is a heinous act of terror, there is no justification for this heinous act,” he said in a statement.

French weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo has long provoked controversy by mocking many religions with provocative drawings, a practice that has outraged some Muslims whose religion forbids depictions of the Prophet Mohammed (P.B.U.H).

Police have detained seven people as part of a manhunt for two brothers suspected of carrying out the attack, one of whom is a jihadist who has been well-known to anti-terror forces for many years.

The Afghan Taliban on Thursday published an article on their website describing the killings as “an alarm bell for those who have in the past insulted Islam and the prophet,” but stopping short of openly supporting the attack. – AFP

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