Shia leader gunned down in Peshawar

February 04, 2014

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–  File Photo
– File Photo

PESHAWAR: A prominent Shia leader was shot dead in Pakistan's northwestern city of Peshawar on Tuesday, officials said, sparking a protest outside a hospital where his body was taken.

The killing comes just weeks after a Shia scholar was gunned down in the same city.

“Haji Sardar Ali was shot dead in the morning in Kissa Khwani bazaar,” senior police official Faisal Mukhtar told AFP.

Ali headed the local branch of the Tehrik Nafaz-i-Fiqah-i-Jafaria, a Shia rights movement proscribed by the government for its alleged involvement in sectarian violence.

Zaheerul Islam, the deputy commissioner of Peshawar, confirmed the incident.

“Haji Sardar Ali owned a general store in (the) bazaar. He was going to his shop when unknown gunmen shot him dead,” he said.

Ali was rushed to the city's Lady Reading Hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival, Mukhtar said.

An AFP correspondent at the hospital said around a hundred Shia Muslims gathered outside and chanted slogans demanding the arrest of the attackers.

There has been no claim of responsibility so far.

“It looks like a sectarian target killing but the police are still investigating the case,” Mukhtar said.

Scholar Allama Alim Al-Musvi was shot while walking to the mosque in the same bazaar on January 20.

There has been a rise in sectarian violence in Pakistan since several deadly clashes between Sunni and Shia Muslim groups near the capital Islamabad in November.

Pakistan is rife with sectarian clashes where Shias make up some 20 per cent of the country’s mainly Sunni population.