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Toxic liquor kills 24 in Pakistan: police

Pakistani customs officials crushing bottles of liquor: sales are banned to Muslims and strictly controlled for minorities and foreigners © AFP / Arif Ali

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Dec 27 – Twenty-four people, mostly Christians, were killed and dozens more sickened after consuming toxic liquor on Christmas Eve in central Pakistan, police said Tuesday, the latest case of deadly alchohol poisoning in the conservative Muslim country.

The incident happened in a Christian colony in Toba Tek Singh city, 338 kilometres (210 miles) south of Islamabad.

“According to latest information, 24 people including 22 Christians and two Muslims were killed after consuming the toxic liquor brewed by the residents in Mubarakabad Basti on Christmas Eve”, local police official Imran Atif told AFP.

He added at least 60 people were taken ill.

Though legal breweries exist in Pakistan, alcohol sales and consumption are prohibited for Muslims and tightly regulated for minorities and foreigners.

While wealthy Pakistanis buy bootlegged foreign alcohol 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 at least 29 drinkers were killed after consuming methanol-tainted liquor over the Eid public holidays.

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