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Death Of Balochistan Rights Activist Prompts Partial Strike


Many businesses in the provincial capital, Quetta, were closed on February 4, with shops shuttered and padlocked.

Politicians, lawyers, and business-owners went on strike in Pakistan’s southwest province of Balochistan after a regional leader of a Pakistani civil rights group died, allegedly at the hands of police.

Many businesses in the provincial capital, Quetta, were closed on February 4, with shops shuttered and padlocked.

The Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, a Pashtun nationalist party, called the general strike after Muhammad Ibrahim Arman Luni was buried in the town of Qillah Saifullah.

Eyewitnesses told RFE/RL that a police officer struck the college teacher on the neck with a gun after stopping him as he returned from a sit-in protest in the Loralai district of Balochistan on February 2.

Balochistan’s interior minister told RFE/RL that an "initial investigation suggests Arman Luni died of a cardiac arrest."

The Balochistan chief minister has ordered an inquiry into the death.

An official autopsy report is expected later.

Loni was a leader in the Pashtun Protection Movement (PTM), which has been holding rallies across Pakistan since the beginning of 2018 to protest against what it says are human rights abuses and extrajudicial killings by security forces in the tribal regions.

Mohsin Dawar, a lawmaker and a PTM founding member, said that the police singled Loni out and deliberately beat him to death because of his "association with PTM."

"It was a targeted attack on him by police,” he told the Reuters news agency.

The civil rights group announced nationwide protests against the alleged murder on February 5.

Resource-rich Balochistan, which borders Afghanistan and Iran, has been plagued by sectarian violence, Islamist militant attacks, and a separatist insurgency that has led to thousands of casualties since 2004.

With reporting by AP, dpa, and Reuters
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