LAHORE, Dec 6: A senior leader of Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat was shot dead by unidentified attackers on a motorcycle in Shafeeqabad area on Friday.

The murder of Maulana Shamsur Rehman Muavia, 45, the president of the Punjab chapter of ASWJ, sparked protests in Lahore and some other cities of the province.

Hundreds of charged activists held a march from Batti Chowk to Neela Gumbad in Lahore in protest against the incident.

Police could not determine the motive for the murder and said investigators were working on different angles, including the possibility of a targeted attack.

“I was taking the maulana to his Basti Saidan Shah residence in a car from Jamia Masjid Muhammadia Hanfia, Karim Park, after Friday prayers. As we reached Ring Road from Batti Chowk, unidentified people opened fire on the car,” driver Mohammad Adnan said.

Adnan, who suffered a minor wound, told Dawn at the Jinnah Hospital that Maulana Muavia was hit by several bullets. A passer-by was also injured and identified by hospital officials as Zafar Ahsaan, 23. A resident of Jaranwala, Ahsaan underwent surgery.

Adnan was not sure about the identity or the number of attackers.

SSP (Operations) Rana Abdul Jabbar said two men riding a motorcycle and carrying SMG rifles ambushed the maulana’s car when it slowed down while approaching the Ring Road.

He said the suspects apparently fired six bullets, three hitting the maulana. A Rescue 1122 ambulance took the maulana to Mian Munshi Hospital where he died.

Six empty bullet shells were found at the crime scene, he said.

The SSP said Maulana Muavia had apparently become the victim of targeted killing but it was too early to say that he had been killed on sectarian grounds.

An investigator said information about the maulana and his personal matters was being collected.

An ASWJ activist said Maulana Muavia was survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter. He used to lead Friday prayers at the Karim Park mosque. He said they did not know as to who could be behind the assassination.

The Ravi Road police have registered a murder and injury case under relevant sections of the Pakistan Penal Code and section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act against four unidentified attackers.

Officials said a constable had been provided to Maulana Muavia some time ago for security but the ASWJ leader had allowed him leave a few days ago.

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