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Pakistan denies Australian sheep mistreated

02 October, 2012

KARACHI: Pakistani authorities on Monday denied a report that thousands of Australian sheep culled over disease fears were killed improperly, insisting they were slaughtered in accordance with Islamic practice.

A court on Saturday halted the cull of 21,000 Australian sheep amid a dispute over whether or not they are sick, but a senior official insisted the 7,600 animals already killed had not been mistreated.

The shipment of sheep arrived in Pakistan almost a month ago after being turned away by Bahrain, and livestock officials ordered them to be culled after they tested positive for salmonella and actinomyces bacteria. But after an appeal by importer PK Meat and Food Company, the Sindh High Court rejected the test results and ordered fresh samples to be taken and sent to Britain for analysis.

A report in a local English daily said the authorities had used untrained workers who had stabbed and clubbed the sheep to death and even buried some while still alive, prompting anger in Australia. According to the report, which referred to video shot on a mobile phone, some of the animals were disposed of in shallow graves.

AFP has not seen the video. Roshan Sheikh, Karachi's top administrative official, said reports of the animals' mistreatment were untrue. "We have slaughtered the sheep in Islamic manner and duly buried them deep in trenches ensuring that they could not cause danger to human population or animals," he said.

"There was just a single sheep, the throat of which was not properly cut, but that was a human error and not deliberate." Australian government has said it was looking into the reports. The court will reconvene to decide on the sheep's fate on October 16, after receiving results from the British laboratory.

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