Mourners comfort each other at the house of slain Balochistan Education Minister Shafiq Ahmed Khan in Quetta. - Photo by AFP.

QUETTA Balochistan's Education Minister Shafiq Ahmed Khan was shot dead in front of his house here on Sunday. One of his close relatives was injured in the attack. Mr Khan, 55, belonged to the PPP.

Balochistan Liberation United Front (BLUF), which had kidnapped UNHCR official John Solecki in February this year, claimed responsibility for the murder of Mr Shafiq Khan.

Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani announced three-day mourning in the province. Educational institutions, which were scheduled to reopen on Monday, have been closed for another three days.

According to police, Mr Shafiq Ahmed Khan was attacked when he returned, along with his relative Hidayatullah Jaffar, after attending a function in a local hotel.

As he came out of his car in Talgodam area, some armed men opened fire from close range, seriously injuring him and his relative. They were being taken to the civil hospital, but Mr Shafiq Khan died before reaching there.

'Mr Shafiq Khan suffered bullet wounds in the head and chest,' doctors at the civil hospital said.

Witnesses said the assassins who were on motorbike escaped after the attack.

'I saw a man who fired on the education minister,' Hidayatullah Jaffar told police at the hospital.

Sources said there was no security guard with the minister. It is learnt that despite repeated demands Mr Shafiq Khan did not get any guard or security escort.

He is the second minister of the provincial coalition government gunned down in a couple of months.

Excise and Taxation Minister Sardarzada Rustam Khan Jamali was assassinated in Karachi in July this year. The house of Provincial Information Minister Younas Mullahzai recently came under a grenade attack in Quetta.

Soon after Sunday's incident, hundreds of workers of PPP and other political parties gathered outside the house of Mr Shafiq Khan. Provincial ministers and leaders of political parties also visited his house to offer condolences.

Family sources said his Namaz-i-Janaza would be held in Toghi road Eidgah and he would be buried in the Kasi graveyard.

Balochistan lawyers have announced boycott of the court on Monday and traders would observe a strike in protest against the assassination.

Baloch Liberation United Front spokesman Shahiq Baloch claimed responsibility for the assassination.

Mr Shahiq was born in Quetta. After completing his education at the Balochistan University, he started his career as a social worker. He was thrice elected as member of the Quetta Municipal Corporation.

He first joined Tehrik-i-Istiqlal, but left it after some time. In 1990, he contested for a provincial assembly seat as an independent candidate, but lost.

He later joined the PPP and was elected an MPA in 2002. He was re-elected on PPP ticket in 2008 and joined the cabinet of Nawab Raisani as education minister.

His assassination has been condemned across the province by Governor Nawab Zulfiqar Magsi, Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani, Speaker Aslam Bhootani, PPP's provincial president Senator Haji Lashkri Raisani and parliamentary leader Mir Sadiq Umrani, provincial ministers Sardar Sanaullah Zehri, Mir Zafarullah Zehri, Babu Amin Umrani, Mir Asim Kurd and Dr Ruquiya Hashmi and other political leaders.

The Pukhtoonkhawa Milli Awami Party has termed the killing a terrorist act and demanded arrest of Mr Shafiq Khan's killers.

In a statement issued here on Sunday, the PKMAP said it would not allow target killings and other terrorist acts in the province. It criticised the performance of law-enforcement agencies and said that terrorists had been given a free hand to kill innocent people.

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