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KARACHI, May 20: A central leader of the Sindh National Movement (SNM) was shot dead in an armed attack on main University Road on Monday, police said.

The killing sparked violent protests in the area, with armed youths taking to the streets, firing into the air and forcibly closing businesses.

The police said that SNM leader Qasim Chandio along with his nephew Suleman left his house in Jauhar Complex to meet some relatives at an area hospital.

He was riding a motorcycle and when they reached near the Mosamiat Roundabout, apparently a lone assailant, also riding a motorbike, fired at him from behind and escaped.

They said that the bullet hit him in the head and he was taken to a nearby hospital, where doctors declared him dead. Later, the body was shifted to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre for a post-mortem examination.

Quoting witnesses, Mobina Town SHO Jamal Laghari said that there was a single attacker who was riding a motorcycle.

He said that the victim was also the president of a union of Jauhar Complex and there was a dispute between him and members of his rival party.

The whole area reverberated with heavy gunfire when the news of his killing spread. Gunmen forced closure of shops and other commercial activities in Jauhar Complex, Safoora Goth and Sachal and closed the main road for vehicular traffic.

A police team, led by Sachal SHO Zakib Goga, reached the scene and tried to disperse the protesters who had blocked the road linking the area with the Superhighway. However, someone from the Jauhar Complex opened fire and a bullet hit the SHO in the abdomen, said Malir SSP Mazhar Nawaz Sheikh.

He said that the wounded officer was admitted to a private hospital.

The police took action and detained three men and recovered arms from their possession, the SSP added.

The SNM chief, Ali Hasan Chandio, said that the victim was the central general secretary of the party and had remained active in politics for the past 15 years.

He believed that there were four to five attackers and blamed workers of his rival party for the killing.

He said about six months ago, two workers sustained bullet wounds when the SNM’s vice chairman was attacked in the same area.

Mr Chandio said that his party named the suspects in the FIR but the police did not take any action.

He said that an FIR would be lodged after the burial to be held in Qasim Chandio’s ancestral village in Larkana.