Gunmen kill five Sunnis in southern Pakistan

November 05, 2013 - 2:58:18 pm
KARACHI: Gunmen in Pakistan's financial metropolis Karachi shot dead five Sunni Muslims a day after six minority Shiites were killed in the same city, officials said.

Police said the five belonged to the conservative Deobandi movement and were either members of sympathisers of banned extremist outfits.

"Apparently they were targeted becurse of their sect," senior police officer Muneer Shaikh told AFP.

The shootings took place in different areas of Karachi, Shaikh said, but declined to comment on whether they were revenge killings following the murders of the Shiites on Monday.

City police chief Shahid Hayat said a "conspiracy is being hatched to fan Sunni-Shiite clashes in the city."

"We have identified the shooters and will arrest the killers within a couple of days," Hayat told a delegation of local businessmen.

Officials said the victims were two clerics, a prayer caller and two activists of Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ), a Sunni sectarian group.

At least five Shiite Muslims, including two doctors, were shot dead on Monday, while another Shiite Muslim who was injured in an attack on a tailor shop also died Tuesday morning, hospital officials said.

The killings came ahead of the Muslim holy month of Moharram which starts on Wednesday in which Shiites mourn the seventh century martyrdom of Hussain, the grandson of prophet Mohammad, along with his family members.

Shiites make up around a fifth of Pakistan's population.

Police are already carrying out operations against criminal groups to curb sectarian and political killings.

Security would be further tightened in the month of Moharram, they said.

Karachi, a city of 18 million people which contributes 42 percent of Pakistan's GDP, is rife with murder and kidnappings and has been plagued for years by ethnic, sectarian and political violence. (AFP)