KARACHI: A Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader and a member of the Sindh Assembly, Raza Haider, and his security guard were gunned down by unidentified motorcyclists inside a mosque in the Nazimabad area on Monday.
Life in the provincial capital was crippled following the incident, as at least 35 people were killed and more than 125 injured in incidents of violence that broke out in various areas in response to the killing.
Around three-dozen vehicles and several shops were set ablaze, while massive traffic jams were witnessed at almost all major thoroughfares of the city.
Two unidentified men shot dead 50-year-old Haider and his security guard Khalid Khan inside the Jamia Masjid Aqsa in Nazimabad Block No 2, when the lawmaker was getting ready to say his prayers at the mosque.
Bodies of the two victims were taken to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital. MLO Dr Sheraz told Daily Times that the MPA sustained six bullet wounds – three from a sub-machine gun and three from a 9mm pistol – while his guard had sustained only one bullet injury.
The condition of a teenage boy Arsalan, who was also wounded in the attack, was stable, he added.
Liaquatabad Town SP Waqar Mallan told Daily Times that police found empty shells of a 9mm pistol and an SMG from the crime scene. The SP added that the culprits arrived at the mosque on two motorcycles and a white-coloured car.
“Two of the four men on the motorcycles entered the mosque and after shouting ‘Allah-o-Akbar’ opened fire on the MQM leader and his guard,” the officer said.
“The sketches that we are preparing with the help of eyewitnesses would be provided to the media after they are finalised, but our first priority is to control the law and order situation,” he added.
Meanwhile, violence and anarchy spread throughout the city following the MPA’s murder. Besides several vehicles and shops, a petrol pump, roadside stalls and pushcarts in various parts of the city were set ablaze by protesters.
Routine life was suspended and commercial activities came to a halt due to the violence, as several people stuck in traffic jams had parked their vehicles on the roads and walked to their destinations.
The MQM Rabita Committee announced three days of mourning. The committee said special prayers would also be organised for Haider.
Separately, MQM chief Altaf Hussain called for a high-level probe into Haider’s murder.
Condemning the killing, Altaf termed it a big tragedy, according to a statement by the MQM. President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, and the four chief ministers strongly condemned the killing of the MQM leader.
The PM appealed to MQM party workers to avoid taking any extreme measures to express outrage against those who had committed this heinous crime.