Pakistan arrests activists to stop them from protesting against extrajudicial killings

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Pakistan’s police used water cannons, swung batons, and arrested dozens of activists in an overnight crackdown to stop protesters from entering the capital to denounce the forced disappearances and extrajudicial killings in the militancy-ravaged southwest, the organisers said on Thursday.

About 200 protesters, some of them families with children, began their nearly 1,600-kilometre convoy around November 28, heading toward Islamabad from the town of Turbat.

‘Encounter killings’

They planned to rally in the capital to draw attention to the death of Balaach Mola Bakhsh. The 24-year-old died in November while in police custody in Baluchistan province.

Police say Bakhsh was carrying explosives when he was arrested in November, and two days later he died when militants ambushed a police van that was transporting him.

Activists say police were holding him since they arrested him in October, and suspect he was killed intentionally in a staged counterterrorism operation. Such arrests by security forces are common in Baluchistan and elsewhere, and people who are missing are often found to have been in the custody of authorities, sometimes for years.

Since then, human rights activists and Bakhsh’s family have been demanding justice for him. They also want the counter-terrorism officials who they claim killed the man arrested.

People who are missing are often found to have been in the custody of authorities

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