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Pakistani dissident found dead in Toronto

Pakistani dissident and activist Karima Mehrab was found dead Monday morning. Photo courtesy of Toronto Police Operations/Twitter
Pakistani dissident and activist Karima Mehrab was found dead Monday morning. Photo courtesy of Toronto Police Operations/Twitter

Dec. 22 (UPI) -- Authorities in Canada said Tuesday officers have located the body of a Pakistani dissident who was reported missing earlier this week.

The Toronto Police Service confirmed in a statement that the body of Karima Mehrab, 37, was located Monday morning.

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"It is currently being investigated as a non-criminal death," the Toronto Police Service said in an email to UPI. "There are not believed to be any suspicious circumstances."

Mehrab, who is better known as Karima Baloch, was last seen Sunday at 3 p.m. near the Toronto harbor area called Harbourfont. The location where her body was found was not released.

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Police said she was known to frequent both the Harbourfont and Toronto Island, which is accessible from the harbor via ferry.

Amnesty International South Asia called her death "deeply shocking," urging the authorities via Twitter to "immediately and effectively" investigate it.

The Human Rights Council of Balochistan also called on the Canadian government to investigate her death and "bring forward conclusions."

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"She defeated patriarchy & took over a nationalist struggle in midst of ruthless state suppression," the non-profit human rights organization said. "She remains a beacon of hope and human dignity."

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Mehrab was named by the BBC as one of the most inspirational and influential women of 2016 for her work seeking independence for the western state of Balochistan from Pakistan. She was also the head of the Baloch Student Organization, which fights for the state's separation.

The Baloch Student Organization, as well as other activists including Amnesty International South Asia, claimed Mehrab was killed as other members of the organization have gone missing and later found dead.

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Journalist Sajid Hussain Baloch, who was related to Mehrab and living in exile in Sweden, was found dead earlier this year. Swedish police told BBC that they did not suspect foul play.

Reporters without Borders said "there is a strong possibility that he was killed in connection with is work as a journalist."

The Public Safety Ministry has been contacted for comment.

Bob Rae, Canada's ambassador to the United Nations and former premier of Ontario, said through Twitter he had the pleasure of meeting Mehrab and that he was "deeply saddened to learn of her death" and that he expresses his condolences to her family and community.

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