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Kazakh journalist Irina Mednikova (file photo)

An independent Kazakh journalist says she has been attacked and robbed by an unknown assailant in the country's largest city, Almaty.

Irina Mednikova wrote on Facebook on October 13 that a man had attacked her near her apartment block in the evening of October 12.

The assailant dragged her for several meters to a parked car, hit her against the vehicle, and grabbed her bag before running away, Mednikova said.

Mednikova, who is also the director of the independent Youth Information Service of Kazakhstan, says documents related to the organization of a media conference in the western city of Atyrau were taken away with her bag.

Almaty city police spokeswoman Saltanat Azirbek told RFE/RL that investigations into "robbery" had been launched.

Mednikova insists the attack was linked to her professional activities.

Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman who was sentenced to death for blasphemy, is appealing her case to the Pakistan Supreme Court.

Pakistan's Supreme Court has delayed an appeal in the country's most notorious blasphemy case.

Dozens of police had been deployed outside the court in Islamabad on October 13, as the court readied to hear a final appeal in the case of Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of five who has been on death row since 2010.

But the court adjourned the hearing after one of the three-member bench said he had to recuse himself from the case on the grounds that he also heard the Salman Taseer case.

Taseer, a secular provincial governor who had campaigned against Pakistan's harsh blasphemy laws, was gunned down in 2011. His assassin, Mumtaz Qadri, was hanged earlier this year.

The court did not immediately set a new date for Bibi’s appeal.

Blasphemy is an explosive issue in Muslim-majority Pakistan. Anyone even accused of insulting Islam risks a violent and bloody death at the hands of vigilantes.

Rights groups say blasphemy laws are often abused to carry out personal vendettas, mainly against minority Christians.

Bibi was convicted and sentenced to hang after an argument with a Muslim woman over a bowl of water. Her supporters maintain her innocence and insist it was a personal dispute.

But successive appeals have been rejected, and if the Supreme Court upholds Bibi's conviction, her only recourse will be an appeal to the president for clemency.

She would become the first person in Pakistan to be executed for blasphemy.

Observers have warned of possible violence if the conviction is overturned.

Based on reporting by AFP and the Guardian

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.


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