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Extrajudicial killing shocks Pakistan

world Updated: Jun 09, 2011 14:39 IST

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Pakistani police arrested five paramilitary soldiers for shooting dead a young man at point blank range in a public park in an incident filmed live and broadcast on television, officials said on Thursday.

Five soldiers from the Rangers paramilitary force surrounded and shot dead 25-year-old Sabir Shah in Karachi's most exclusive neighbourhood of Clifton late Wednesday, claiming he had tried to rob a policeman's family.

A police official later told AFP on condition of anonymity that only a toy gun had been recovered. The public park is named after assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, whose family home is in Clifton.

Shah's relatives took his body and protested outside the house of the chief minister of Sindh province, of which Karachi is the capital, demanding that the soldiers be arrested.

Footage of the incident, filmed by an unidentified cameraman, was broadcast repeatedly on local television stations.

In it, a soldier can be seen dragging the man, then throwing him towards half a dozen armed comrades, one of whom then shot the 25-year-old twice at point-blank range as he begged for his life.

Leading human rights activists and lawyers condemned the killing.

"Seeing this, anyone can guess how brutalised our society has become," Asma Jahangir, president of the Supreme Court Bar Association and a long-time rights champion, told AFP.

Interior minister Rehman Malik ordered the arrest of the soldiers involved and a departmental inquiry.

"This act is extremely unlawful, even if the youth was a robber it did not merit to kill him like this," Malik told TV channels.

"The suspects in the incident have been arrested. I have ordered for a thorough inquiry."

Sindh chief minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah ordered an inquiry and suspended a senior police official for charging the youth with robbery after his death.