KARACHI, May 30: Renowned religious scholar Mufti Nizamuddin Shamzai was assassinated on Sunday, and his son, nephew and chauffeur were wounded when their car was sprayed with bullets in front of their home, a few yards from the Jamia Binnoria in Jamshed Town.

The killing triggered violence across the city with the Guru Mandir area adjoining the Jamia Binnoria bearing the brunt of attacks by groups of angry people who ransacked the Jamshed Quarters police station andset ablaze about 20 vehicles, two bank branches and a petrol station. The office of the Quaid-i-Azam Academy also came under attack.

Six people, including a policeman and a Rangers, were shot and wounded. Besides, dozens of people suffered minor injuries. Mufti Shamzai was sitting in the front seat of his double-cabin car along with his driver Tayyab. His son Saleemuddin and nephew Rafiuddin were sitting in the rear when their car came under heavy gunfire.

DIG Karachi (Operations) Tariq Jamil said: "No-one has claimed responsibility for the killing so far." He said that police had provided Mufti Shamzai with a squad and four guards but he kept only one guard with him.

The official guard, Khair Mohammad, who was also in the vehicle, told police that four assailants in a white Suzuki Cultus intercepted the car and opened fire. Khair Mohammad returned fire and, according to him, an assailant was wounded. Khair Mohammad remained unhurt, the DIG said.

However, eyewitnesses said that as the driver of Mufti Shamzai accelerated, two men on a motorcycle intercepted the car at around 8:45am. Two otherassailants on another motorbike, armed with automatic weapons, sprayed the car with bullets. A white car was also there, apparently to provide back-up to the assailants. After the shooting, the assailants escaped.

The witnesses said that an accomplice of the assailants also suffered a bullet wound and blood was oozing from his wound. But he was whisked away by his partners in a white car. The witnesses said that the assailants had left one motorbike behind.

DIG Jamil did not deny the presence of the motorcycle and said: "The violence broke out soon afterwards and it was possible that the motorcycle would have been left there."

Soon after the incident, pupils of the Jamia gathered at the place of the incident and moved the four injured to the Liaquat National Hospital where Mufti Shamzai was pronounced dead.

A large number of people who had gathered at the private tertiary care unit were enraged when they heard that. Heavy contingents of police were called in to maintain law and order. The body was taken to the Jamia Binnoria in Al Mustafa ambulance where his followers started assembling.

The funeral prayer, held in the evening at the Jamia Binnoria mosque, was led by Maulana Abdul Razzak Iskandar and attended by people from different walks of life, including the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Chief Minister of the NWFP, Akram Durrani, City Nazim Naimatullah Khan and Prof Ghafoor Ahmed.

The funeral procession moved to a graveyard in the Scout Colony off Abul Hasan Isphani Road, where Mufti Shamzai was laid to rest beside the grave of Maulana Mohammad Yousuf Ludhianvi.

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