Sectarian violence has been on the rise in Pakistan, adding to the
list of concerns for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at a time when
security forces are already stretched fighting an escalating
Islamist insurgency in the northwest.
Allama Nasir Abbas, leader of Tehreek Nifaz Fiqah-e-Jafaria, a
banned Shi'ite organization, was shot by gunmen on a motorbike as he
drove home after addressing a religious gathering in the city of
Lahore on Sunday evening.
"It's a targeted attack. The gunmen shot him from close range when
he was driving home along with his driver and a friend," Lahore
police chief Chaudhry Shafeeq told Reuters.
"Abbas died on the way to hospital. His driver and friend were
The Pakistani Taliban, who are Sunni Muslim militants, claimed
responsibility, saying the killing was revenge for an attack in the
city of Rawalpindi in which eight Sunnis were killed a month ago
during a Shi'ite procession.
"We have killed this man for his direct involvement in the
Rawalpindi killings," said the a Taliban spokesman, Ahmed Ali
"We plan to carry out more Shi'ite killings on a large scale."
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In Lahore, hundreds of people gathered on Monday to offer funeral
prayers of the Shi'ite cleric, paralyzing traffic in Pakistan's
political and cultural capital.
Shi'ite Muslims make up about 20 percent of Pakistan's 180 million
population. More than 800 Shi'ites have been killed in attacks in
Pakistan since the beginning of 2012, according to Human Rights
(Reporting by Syed Raza Hassan in Islamabad and Saud Mehsud in Dera
Ismail Khan, editing by Maria Golovnina; editing by Robert Birsel)
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