Suspects held after Pakistan alcohol poisoning kills 34

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani police yesterday caught three men accused of preparing home-made liquor mixed with aftershave that killed 34 people including a fourth suspect after they consumed the toxic brew on Christmas Eve. More than a hundred people were also sickened in the incident, one of the country’s deadliest cases of mass alcohol poisoning, which happened in a Christian neighborhood in the town of Toba Tek Singh some 340 kilometers south of Islamabad.

“Four people have been identified who prepared and distributed the toxic liquor,” senior police official Atif Imran, who is investigating the case, told AFP, adding the group had also consumed the alcohol themselves. “One of them died because of the liquor, two others are in critical condition while the fourth is in police custody,” he added.

The suspect in police custody had confessed to preparing the brew by mixing it with 20 liters of aftershave and other chemicals. The development was confirmed by another senior police official Usman Akram Gondal. Though legal breweries exist in Pakistan, alcohol sales and consumption are banned for Muslims and tightly regulated for minorities and foreigners.
While wealthy Pakistanis buy foreign alcohol on the black market at heavily inflated prices, the poor often resort to home brews that can contain methanol, commonly used in anti-freeze and fuel. Eleven Christians died in October after consuming toxic liquor at a party in Punjab province. In October 2014 29 drinkers were killed after consuming methanol-tainted liquor over the Eid public holidays. – AFP

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