Christian couple beaten to death and bodies burned for 'desecrating the Koran'

Couple were attacked by an angry mob of up to 35 people in Pakistan

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The Independent Online

A Christian couple were beaten to death in Pakistan by a mob for allegedly desecrating the Koran, police have said.

They were killed by a mob in the town of Kot Radha Kishan, in eastern Punjab province, and their bodies were burned at a brick kiln where they both worked.

The couple were named as Shahbaz Maseeh, 26, and his wife Shama Bibi, 24, by NBC News, who said up to 35 people are believed to have taken part in the attack.

A security official told the BBC local police attempted to save the pair, but were outnumbered by the angry mob. Shahbaz Sharif, the top elected official in the province, has ordered a probe into the incident.

The attack is the latest to target minorities in Pakistan for alleged blasphemy.

Under Pakistan's highly sensitive blasphemy laws, anyone accused of insulting Islam or the Prophet Mohamed can be sentenced to death. However, some vigilante mobs have taken laws into their own hands even when accusations have not been proven.

On Tuesday, Prince Charles urged religious leaders to ensure followers respect people from other faiths, after a report concluded Christians are the “most persecuted religious minority”.

The document released in the House of Lords suggested religious freedom across the world has entered a “period of serious decline” in the past two years.

It went on to warn that Muslims are also "experiencing a serious degree of persecution and discrimination, both at the hands of other Muslims, and from authoritarian governments.”

Earlier this month, the Lahore High Court upheld a death sentence against a Christian woman who was convicted of blasphemy in Pakistan four years ago. In September, a mentally ill British pensioner who is also facing execution for blasphemy was shot by a member of an elite police commando unit in a Pakistani prison.

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