Karima Baloch: Pakistani rights activist found dead in Toronto
Karima Baloch was reported missing on Sunday
Rights groups have called for an investigation into the death of Karima Baloch, a Pakistani activist living in exile in Toronto, Canada.
The 37-year-old Baluch, an activist from the troubled Balochistan region in western Pakistan, was a vocal critic of the Pakistani military and state.
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Toronto police appealed after she disappeared on Sunday. Friends later said her body had been found.
In 2016, Baloch was listed on the BBC's annual list of 100 Inspirational Women.
Toronto police tweeted Monday, saying the activist was last seen on Sunday on Bay Street in Queens Quay West. The troop later tweeted again to say they were "found" without adding any details.
Friends and fellow activists said her body had since been discovered, but the cause of death was not immediately cleared.
Baluch's sister told BBC Urdu on Tuesday that her death was "not only a tragedy for the family, but also for the Baloch national movement".
"She did not go abroad because she wanted to, but because ... open activism in Pakistan had become impossible," said Mahganj Baloch.
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There was a longstanding separatist uprising in Balochistan Province. Baloch was the former head of the Baloch Students' Organization (BSO) - a banned activist group in Pakistan - and the group's first female leader.
She had lived in Canada since 2015 after applying for asylum and said her life in Pakistan was in danger. Her first public fame as an activist was a decade earlier in 2005 in Balochistan's Turbat area, where she participated in a protest against missing persons bearing the picture of one of their missing relatives.
Activists in Balochistan say that thousands of activists have disappeared in recent years. The Pakistani military denies allegations of brutally suppressing the region's aspirations for autonomy.
Several members of the extended Baluch family had been linked to the Baloch resistance movement over the years, and two of her uncles - one of her mother's brother and one of her father's brother - had disappeared. Their bodies were later found.
She rose to the top of the BSO in 2006, but many of the group's activists either "disappeared" or went into hiding for the following years, and in 2013 the government banned the group.
Baluch went into exile in 2015 after being charged with terrorism. After moving to Toronto, she married a fellow activist, Hamal Baloch. She remained active in both social media and human rights activities in Canada and Europe while in exile.
The following year, she was included on the BBC's annual list of 100 inspiring and influential women.
In response to news of Baluch's death, the Balochistan National Movement (BNM) announced a 40-day mourning period.
Amnesty International's South Asia Office said in a tweet: "The death of activist Karima Baloch in Toronto, Canada is deeply shocking and requires immediate and effective investigation. The perpetrators must be brought to justice without recourse to the death penalty."
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