RAWALPINDI: Gunmen riding motorcycles shot dead three persons, and injured three others, in two separate drive-by gun attacks in the city on Friday. The killers escaped in both cases.

Family feud was behind the first attack, which took place at dawn in the Race Course precinct. But police suspect sectarian enmity behind the second attack, which took place in the Purana Qila section of Raja Bazaar, just metres away from the ruins of Taleemul Quran madressah-mosque-market complex, after the Friday prayers.

“Apparently, it is sectarian violence. However, we are investigating the murder case from different angles,” SHO Nadeem Zafar of Banni police station told Dawn.

Two unidentified motorcyclists arrived at the Dubai Chadder shop in Purana Qila selling material used by the Shia community in its religious rituals and started firing, killing two men inside the shop and injuring three others, he said.

Their shooting killed Mohammad Faisal alias Sunny and Ramzan Qureshi and injured Haji Nasir, Umer and Fareed.

Ironically, the shopkeepers the gunmen killed belonged to the Sunni sect.

What looked paradoxical to the police, however, was that Dubai Chadder opened for business when it used to observe Friday as weekly holiday and when no Shia rituals, or gatherings, were scheduled for the day.

Whatever facts police investigations may upturn, the immediate impact of the targeted murders was that panic gripped the Raja Bazaar area. Big contingents of police were rushed there to control the situation as terrified shopkeepers started pulling down their shutters.

Many noted that the unfortunate gun attack took place on the eve of the ceremonial launch of the reconstruction of the Taleemul Quran seminary and the mosque and Madina Market attached to it, which were burnt down during sectarian violence in the old city last November.

Rawalpindi Traders Association President Sharjeel Mir condemned Friday’s shooting and asked the Punjab government, which is rebuilding the complex, to ensure protection of the traders in worsening law and order situation.

“We are still suffering the tragic consequences of the last sectarian outburst and this incident has added to the traders’ pain and concerns,” he said.

In the early morning incident, milk shop owner Manzoor Hussain was shot dead by two motorcycle riders.

His son, Matloob Hussain, filed a murder case with the Race Course police station, accusing Amin and Ahmed of the crime in a family feud and litigation.