Pakistan cleric killed in apparent sectarian attack
KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) - Armed men riding a motorcycle shot dead a religious scholar belonging to a little-known branch of Islam in Pakistan's bustling city of Karachi, police said Sunday.
The murder of Maulana Adil Khan was immediately condemned and viewed as an attempt to instigate sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shiites in the country. Prime Minister Imran Khan called it "an attempt by India to create a sectarian conflict across the country," although no immediate evidence was presented that India was behind the attack.
Khan is the son of the late prominent scholar Maulana Saleemullah Khan, who founded the great seminary Jamia Farooqia decades ago. The seminar is based on the Sunni-Muslim teachings of the Deobandi sect, whose scholars have been the target of murders in the past.
Khan received a doctorate in religious studies, received training in his father's seminary, and had taught in Malaysia.
Police chief Ghulam Nabi Memon said the clergyman and his driver were both killed in the Saturday night attack that took place in the civil district of Shah Faisal colony.
Police said when the cleric's vehicle stopped outside a busy shopping area, armed men opened fire on the driver before firing three bullets that struck Khan's head, neck and chest. The three attackers then fled on the back of a shared motorcycle.
Khan was taken to a private hospital, where he was pronounced dead upon arrival, said hospital spokesman Anjum Rizvi. Police said the driver died before reaching a government hospital.
Pakistan has a history of sectarian hostility between Sunni and Shiite extremists. Attacks on both sides have claimed hundreds of lives, including those of religious scholars.
Counter-terrorism police officer Raja Umar Khitab said the attack was a "conspiracy to instigate sectarian violence".
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