KARACHI, Nov 6: A prominent Shia leader and his colleague were killed in a targeted attack in the city centre on Tuesday morning, making a mockery of heightened security measures taken for the international defence exhibition that opens at the Expo Centre on Wednesday.

Two more persons were killed and another suffered injuries when Rangers personnel opened fire in the direction of the funeral procession of the slain Shia leader after the security personnel came under fire from unidentified attackers riding motorcycles ahead of the procession near Dak Khana, according to police.

A Rangers personnel was wounded in the firing.

At least four buses, one in the morning at the Numaish traffic intersection and three at night in Liaquatabad, were set on fire by angry protesters.

A five-kilo improvised explosive device (IED) was also found just a few yards away from the protesters.

It was defused by personnel of a bomb disposal unit.

A senior police officer of the area told Dawn that some people riding a motorcycle ahead of the procession opened fire on Rangers personnel near Dak Khana in the Liaquatabad area, leaving a Ranger’s sepoy wounded.

The procession was passing through the area and was on its way to the Wadi-i-Hussain graveyard after funeral prayers held at the Numaish traffic intersection.

“The incident triggered firing from the Rangers (in the direction of the procession) in which three participants in the procession were wounded,” he said.

The wounded identified as Ali Hassan, Wasim Ali and Faraz Haider were rushed to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital where Ali Hassan and Wasim succumbed to their wounds.

No spokesman for the Rangers was available for comment.

Earlier on Tuesday morning, deputy secretary general of Majlis Wahadat-i-Muslimeen (MWM) Allama Aftab Haider Jafri and his colleague Shahid Ali Mirza were gunned down by motorcycle-riding attackers near Preedy Street Parking Plaza in Saddar within the jurisdiction of the Brigade police station.

“Allama Jafri was said to be heading for work along with his colleague in a car when unidentified suspects riding motorcycles ambushed them near the parking plaza,” said Jamshad Town SP Asad Raza. He added that the killing was carried out on sectarian grounds.Eyewitnesses’ account indicted the attackers were four in number and rode two motorcycles as they fired at the car, he said.

Allama Jafri suffered multiple gunshot wounds and died on the spot while his colleague was rushed to the Civil Hospital Karachi where he succumbed to wounds, police said.

Both men were employees of a private bank and were heading to work at around 8:30am when they were targeted, police said.

Police said that several bullet casings of 9mm and 30 bore pistols were found at the crime scene.

Allama Jafri lived in Jacob Lines area and his colleague used to take him to work, police said.

Sources close to the slain religious leader said that about two days ago, Allama Jafri had told some of his close friends that he had a feeling that he was being followed by someone on his way to and from office.

The slain cleric was elected deputy secretary general of MWM just a few days ago. He was earlier associated with Jaffria Alliance.

The bodies were brought back to Mehfil Shah-i- Khurasan in a procession as a large number of protesters set ablaze a bus at the Numaish intersection.

As the protest was in progress at the Numaish intersection, police were informed about a suspicious article lying near gate No. 2 of Mazar-i-Quaid just yards away from the protesters. It later turned out to be an improvised explosive device.

“The suspects might have dumped the IED there and fled on seeing heavy contingents of police and Rangers deployed at Shahrah-i-Quaideen near the Mazar-i-Quaid,” said SP Asad Raza.

“Apparently, they had intended to keep the IED very close to protesters,” he said. Police evacuated the area and immediately called the bomb disposal (BDU) unit who deactivated the device.

“The IED weighed around five kilos and it had explosives laced with ball bearings and nuts and was fitted with a timer device,” said an official of the BDU.

It was the third IED found in the city over a week.

An IED was found near New Rizvia Society last week. Earlier, a similar device was found in North Nazimabad.

In the wake of targeted killing and ensuing violent protest, tension spilled over into Solider Bazaar and adjoining areas where all commercial activities came to a sudden halt.  The MWM and other Shia organisations have called for three days of mourning over the killing of Allama Jafri.

In their separate statements, the organisations strongly condemned the killing and called for immediate arrest of the culprits involved in the Allama’s murder.

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