Gunmen kill Pakistani human rights activist in Karachi
Unidentified gunmen have fatally shot a prominent Pakistani rights activist in the southern port city of Karachi after hosting a seminar about human rights abuses in the country’s troubled southern province of Balochistan.
Karachi-South Deputy Inspector General of Police, Jamil Ahmed, said Sabeen Mahmud was shot dead on Friday evening, as she was returning home with her mother in a car following the end of “Un-silencing Balochistan” organized by her.
Mahmud and her mother were taken to a nearby private hospital where doctors pronounced the activist dead. The mother was later shifted to Aga Khan University Hospital.
“It’s an incident of targeted killing, but we are not aware of any threats she had been receiving. The investigations are on and it would be too early to speculate about the motive behind the killing,” Ahmed noted.
Police surgeon Dr Jalil Qadir said Mahmud, the director and founder of The Second Floor (T2F) cafe, “sustained four bullet injuries on her face, neck and chest,” adding that her autopsy also showed injuries on her arm and shoulder that might be bullet exit wounds.
No individual or militant group has claimed responsibility for the act of terror.
“It appears that an attempt is being made to silence human rights defenders or those who take up the causes of the people,” Chairwoman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Zohra Yusuf, said.
“This is a shocking event for the city and citizens as T2F has been providing a space to the people to express their views,” the rights activist noted.
Baluchistan is largely known for its rich resources of gas and mineral wealth, but also for its widespread anti-government militancy. Pakistan accuses neighboring India of having a hand in the militancy, with some describing it as New Delhi’s response to Islamabad’s alleged interference in Kashmir.
Balochistan has also been the scene of fierce sectarian violence in its Pashtun-dominated northern belt with the Baloch population hoping to finally gain independence from Islamabad.