Pakistani social media star Qandeel Baloch strangled in ‘honor killing,’ police say

MULTAN, Pakistan, July 16 (UPI) — Pakistani police said model and social media star Qandeel Baloch was strangled by her brother in an “honor killing.”

Times of India reports that the 26-year-old Baloch, who was born Fouzia Azeem, was killed in the central district of Multan on Friday night according to police.

“She was suffocated to death by strangulation. It seems to be a case of honor killing but we are investigating it,” district police chief Azhar Akram said.

Honor killings, which often involve women being killed for “dishonoring their families,” have been on the rise in Pakistan as the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan reported 1,096 women were killed in “honor crimes” in 2015.

Baloch was considered Pakistan’s first social media celebrity after she gained popularity for posting photos and videos of herself to Facebook, which some considered controversial. She was also outspoken against the patriarchal nature of Pakistani society and advocated for women’s rights.

According to Dawn, police said Baloch’s brother Wasim had been threatening her to stop posting photos and videos on Facebook and fled after the murder.

Her body was discovered on Saturday morning and her parents, who were taken into custody, confirmed the killing to The Express Tribune.

“Wasim, 30, killed her last night following an argument,” the newspaper quoted her parenst saying. Wasim had not been arrested.

Three weeks before she was killed, Baloch contacted officials, including the interior minister, the director general of the Federal Investigation Authority and the senior superintendent of Islamabad, for security after receiving threatening calls for sharing controversial photos and videos of herself with Cleric Mufti Abdul Qawi.

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