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Two Hanged for Sectarian Murder

by AFP
Filippo Monteforte—AFP

Filippo Monteforte—AFP

Threat issued to schools in Karachi, warning of attacks if hanging of militants is not stopped.

Two sectarian militants were hanged on Tuesday for the murder of a Shia Muslim doctor in Karachi, officials said, the latest executions since Islamabad ended a moratorium on the death penalty.

Attaullah, alias Qasim, and Mohammad Azam were convicted of killing doctor Ali Raza in 2001 at the busy Soldier Bazaar area of Karachi, which is racked by rising sectarian violence.

A total of 22 people have now been executed since the government brought back hangings in terror cases amid public outrage over a Taliban massacre at a school that left 150 people dead.

“They were hanged at 6:30 this morning and their bodies have been handed to their relatives,” a prison official told AFP on condition of anonymity. The convicts were both members of the banned Sunni militant outfit Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), he added.

The roads outside Karachi Central Prison were closed to traffic overnight as a security measure before the hangings. Both the murderers were arrested in 2004 and tried in an Anti-Terrorism Court, which handed down the death sentence.

Unknown attackers detonated a low-powered bomb near two schools in Karachi on Tuesday and left a note at the scene warning of more violence if the hanging of militants did not stop.

Pakistan has suffered a rising tide of sectarian violence in recent years, most of it perpetrated by hardline Sunni Muslim groups such as LeJ against minority Shias, who make up around 20 percent of the population. The latest sectarian outrage was on Friday, when a suicide bomber killed 61 people at a Shia imambargah in Shikarpur. It was the deadliest attack targeting Shias in Pakistan since February 2013, when 89 were killed in a market bombing in Quetta.

Anti-Shia attacks have been increasing in recent years in Karachi, Quetta, Parachinar and Gilgit. Around 1,000 Shias have been killed in the past two years, with many of the attacks claimed by LeJ.

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