KHAIRPUR: A shutdown was observed in Khairpur city amid sectarian tension on Friday after a Shia activist was shot dead outside a mosque in the Godu Shop area falling within the jurisdiction of the A-Section police late on Thursday evening.

Syed Ahsan Shah, 28, was shot and seriously injured by assailants riding two motorbikes when he came out of the mosque. The victim was rushed to the Khairpur Civil Hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries during treatment. His body was taken to his home, located within the Godu Shop area, and then transported to Karachi in an ambulance.

Scores of Shia activists, besides his relatives, friends and neighbours, joined in the funeral caravan from the hospital to the victim’s home raising slogans against what they described as the ‘targeted killing on sectarian grounds’ and demanding immediate arrest of the culprits.

Leaders of various Shia organisations gave a call for a city-wide shutdown for Friday and three-day mourning.

All markets, offices, shops and vending stalls across the city were shut down soon after the activist’s death and remained closed till dusk on Friday.

The A-Section SHO along with a police team recorded statements of the bereaved family and some activists of the local Shia organisations.

The victim was a gas appliances technician and ran his shop within the area of his residence. Meanwhile, a procession was taken out from Civic Centre Chowk to condemn the killing.

Participants in the procession converged on Chhatti Chowk, where their leaders delivered speeches and termed the fresh incident an attempt to foment sectarian tension in Khairpur district. Protesting against the police failure to arrest the killers, they led their supporters up to the office of the SSP at Mariam Taup Chowk and held a noisy demonstration there. The protesters also placed burning tyres on the nearby section of the old National Highway and disrupted the vehicular traffic.

City ASP Abdul Raheem Sheerazi held negotiations with a delegation comprising various protesting organisations. He assured them of the culprits’ arrest with the next few days, and persuaded them to end their protest.

The demonstrators dispersed peacefully but groups of activists riding motorbikes patrolled streets of the city to ensure observance of the shutdown till dusk.

Strong contingents of police, along with Rangers personnel, were deployed at sensitive spots, including Punj Gulla Chowk to meet any eventuality during the day-long protest.

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