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July 21, 2017

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Pakistan 'blasphemy' girl remand extended: officials

ISLAMABAD -- Pakistani police Friday won permission to hold a young Christian girl accused of blasphemy in custody for a further 14 days while her case is investigated, officials said.

Rimsha was arrested in a poor suburb of Islamabad on Aug. 16 after a neighbor accused her of burning papers containing verses from the Quran, in breach of Pakistan's strict blasphemy laws.

Her case has prompted concern from Western governments and anger from rights campaigners, who say the legislation is often abused to settle personal vendettas.

She arrived at court for the unannounced remand hearing in an armored police van amid tight security, guarded by heavily armed commandos and covered with a white sheet to conceal her face.

Another hearing is scheduled for Saturday to decide on a bail application and whether to accept a medical report that said Rimsha is 14 years old, which would mean her case would be treated under juvenile law, and has a mental age below her actual age.

Some reports have said she has Down's Syndrome.

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