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Protests rock Pakistan over investigation of rape case

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Protests were held in several Pakistani cities for a second day on Saturday over the handling of an investigation into the gang rape of a mother travelling with her children on a highway.

This is as the Police said they were launching a manhunt for the suspects.

The woman, who the Police say is in her early 30s, was driving late on Tuesday night outside the eastern city of Lahore with her two children when her vehicle ran out of fuel.

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She phoned the Police for help, but before they arrived two men took her and her children out of the vehicle at gunpoint and raped her beside the highway. Inam Ghani, Inspector-General of Punjab Province, where the incident took place, told reporters on Saturday night that the Police had identified the two suspects through DNA tracing.

“I am hopeful very soon we will reach them and arrest them,’’ he said.

But the protesters are not satisfied and called for the sacking of the lead police investigator assigned to the case, Omar Sheikh.

Sheikh has repeatedly pointed out what he felt were mistakes made by the victim, such as she should have taken a different, busier, highway, not travelled at night, and made sure her vehicle had enough fuel.

He also said she appeared to be under the impression Pakistan was as safe for women as France, “her country of residence”.

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Requests for comment to the French Embassy in Islamabad went unanswered.

In Islamabad, several hundred protesters gathered, some waved French flags, and others held signs saying “hang the rapists”.

Hundreds, mostly women, also gathered in Lahore, Karachi and even the conservative north-western city of Peshawar.




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