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Pakistani Christian girl accused of blasphemy released on bail

Farooq Naeem / AFP - Getty Images

Pakistani security personnel shift Rimsha Masih, left, a Christian girl accused of blasphemy, to a helicopter after her release from jail in Rawalpindi on Saturday.

Updated at 10:19 p.m.: RAWALPINDI, Pakistan -- A young Christian girl accused of burning pages of the Islam's holy book has been freed from a jail near the capital, a Pakistani jail official said Saturday.

The release came a day after a judge granted her bail.


Mushtaq Awan said the 14-year-old girl left the jail in Rawalpindi, a garrison city near Islamabad, Saturday afternoon.

Rimsha Masih has been held for a little over three weeks after neighbors accused her of violating the country's strict blasphemy law.

Pakistani judge grants bail for Christian girl in blasphemy case

In Muslim Pakistan, the mere allegation of causing offence to Islam can mean death. Those accused under an anti-blasphemy law are sometimes lynched by the public even if they are found innocent by the courts.

An Associated Press reporter on the scene said she was taken from the prison in an armored vehicle and whisked to a waiting helicopter while covered with a sheet to protect her identity. Previous news reports have identified her as Rimsha Masih, believed to be 14.

Her lawyers said they will now push to have the case against her thrown out entirely.

K.M. Chaudary / AP

Images of daily life, political pursuits, religious rites and deadly violence.

Human Rights Watch welcomed Masih's release and urged authorities to consider reforming the law.

"This child should not have been behind bars at all. All charges against her should be dropped," the international rights group said in a statement.

"Pakistan's criminal justice system should instead concentrate on holding her accuser accountable for inciting violence against the child and members of the local Christian community."

This is a breaking news story. Please check back for more details.

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