Pakistan: A video allegedly showing two teenage brothers being beaten to death has caused outrage in Pakistan after it was broadcast on television networks.
Pakistan’s Geo News aired the footage, reporting that it showed the two young men being beaten with sticks before their bodies were dragged and hanged from a nearby metal pole.
None of the dozens of people watching tried to stop the attack, not even several police, the report said.
The killings occurred on August 15 in Sialkot, a town in eastern Punjab province
As details have emerged, authorities appear increasingly confident that the two boys – 17-year-old Moiz Butt and his 15-year-old brother Muneeb – were innocent victims.
The two went to play cricket after praying and eating breakfast, carrying a bag with them containing game equipment, said Mujahid Sherdil, a top government official in the district.
An armed robbery had taken place in the vicinity of the cricket field, so residents were on alert and police were nearby.
When the boys appeared with a bag, they were thought to be the robbers, Sherdil told.
He added, however, that more information was still being sought.
The boys were believed to have been in fights over the past few days for the right to play on the cricket ground, which was about a mile (2 kilometres) from their house.
The origins of the video are unknown and there are reports that multiple men in the crowd recorded the attack using cell phones.
Stations blurred out some of the more graphic images of the boys’ bloodied bodies, but several faces in the crowd are clearly identifiable, including several police officers in uniform who watched.
Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik visited the family of the two victims on Sunday in Sialkot and issued an appeal for citizens to come forward with evidence to help the investigation.
He said at least 10 suspects have been arrested including four police officers.
Geo News reported that the District Police Officer (DPO) was one of the officers arrested and said he would remain in police custody.
Local media reported the DPO was present during the incident. No other information was available.
Malik said the police should have at least fired their guns in the air to disperse the crowd, and added that people should not take the law into their own hands.
He said the whole of Pakistan is calling for the killers to be punished.
“If I cannot get justice, I will understand there is no justice, no law in Pakistan,” said a woman reported to be the boys’ mother.
Punjab province Police Chief said the government has ordered two separate inquiries into the killings.
It’s unclear whether such mob killings are more common now than in years past in Pakistan, but they are more likely to get reported and affect the public consciousness because of the explosion of electronic media during the last decade.
Civic groups condemned the attack in Sialkot and the media attention has forced the government to respond.
But many suspects never get caught – one reason mobs feel free to go after victims on their own.
The brothers’ killings came as Pakistan’s government is reeling from other crises, including the worst flooding in decades.
The calamity appears to have further eroded confidence in the government, a key US ally in the fight against Islamist extremism.