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KARACHI: Two top clerics from one of the largest Muslim seminaries in Pakistan were shot dead yesterday and at least 10 others killed in bombings and shootings in Karachi in the past 24 hours, officials said.
Abdul Majeed Deenpuri, 60, was a top mufti at the Jamia Banuri Uloom Islamia, a strict Sunni teaching establishment. He was being driven in a car with a fellow cleric when a gunman opened fire near the eastern neighbourhood Nursery.
“We have got blurred close-circuit camera footage that shows there was one gunman waiting for them,” a senior police official said.
“When the car slowed down near a traffic intersection, he opened fire to stop it and then attacked them at close range,” he said.
Fellow cleric Mohammad Saleh, 45, and driver Hassaan Shah, 27, were also killed.
“It was a targeted killing and could have a sectarian dimension,” he said.
Seven others died in acts of violence in the city since late Wednesday, he added.
Ethnic, sectarian and politically-linked violence in financial capital killed at least 2,284 people last year, according to the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.
The unrest comes with general elections due in May. The polls will mark the first democratic transition between two civilian governments in Pakistan’s history.
Seminaries, which provide poor families with education, are not tightly regulated and some have served as recruitment grounds for the Taliban and other Al Qaeda-linked terror groups.
Meanwhile, a bomb killed two polio vaccination workers in the northwestern tribal region, officials said, the latest in a series of such attacks which have killed 19 in two months.
There has been no claim of responsibility for any of the killings. But a Taliban faction last year banned polio vaccinations in Waziristan, condemning the campaign as a cover for espionage.
“A two-men team was visiting Mali Khel village in upper Kurram region when an improvised explosive device planted along the roadside went off, killing them on the spot,” said Jawad Ali, in charge of the campaign in Kurram.
He said the team had been visiting different areas not covered by a three-day campaign that ended on Wednesday.
Local administration official Javaid Ullah confirmed the incident.
Kurram is part of the semi-autonomous tribal belt near the Afghan border where Taliban and Al Qaeda-linked militants have carved out strongholds to plot attacks on Pakistani, Afghan and Western targets. It is also rife with sectarian violence.
Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the only countries in the world where polio is endemic. But rumours about vaccines being a plot to sterilise people have long dogged efforts to tackle the highly infectious disease.
In Peshawar, a blast targeting a police van on Jinnah Park Road near Jinnah Park injured nine civilians.
Nine vehicles, including the targeted police van, were damaged.
The bomb was either planted or magnetically attached to the van, officials said, adding that a bomb disposal squad had confirmed half a kg of explosive materials were used to make the device.
Earlier, one person was killed and three were injured when explosives planted in an open field blew up in the Achini Meira area on the outskirts of Peshawar.