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Pak rights activist killed in Karachi, Taliban claims responsibility

People wave flags and celebrate at a national day rally during the country's 69th Independence Day in Peshawar, Pakistan, August 14, 2015.   REUTERS/Khuram Parvez
People wave flags and celebrate at a national day rally during the country's 69th Independence Day in Peshawar, Pakistan, August 14, 2015. REUTERS/Khuram Parvez

Karachi: Unidentified gunmen shot dead Khurram Zaki, a prominent rights activist known for his outspoken stance against the Taliban and other radical militant groups in Pakistan’s Karachi city.

The police said that Zaki was killed late on Saturday night at an outdoor cafe in central Karachi, while a companion was wounded.

“Zaki was sitting at a cafe where he was targeted by four armed men arriving on two motorcycles,” the Express Tribune quoted senior police official Muqadas Haider as saying.

According to reports, a faction of the Pakistani Taliban, the Hakeemullah group, has claimed responsibility for the attack, saying Zaki was targeted for his stance against radical cleric Abdul Aziz.

However, the police could not verify the Hakeemullah faction’s claim and said the group had previously taken responsibility for attacks it did not carry out in Karachi.

Zaki was reportedly known for his outspoken stance against the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a Sunni Muslim sectarian militant group, the Pakistani Taliban , and radical cleric Abdul Aziz.

Zaki had in December 2015 protested against Aziz, demanding that the cleric be arrested and charged with hate speech for allegedly justifying attacks, including the Peshawar school massacre where 134 school children were killed in 2014.

In 2007, Aziz and his followers were engaged in an armed standoff with the government forces in Islamabad, culminating in an eight-day military operation that saw Pakistani commandoes raid the mosque.

He has been acquitted of all criminal charges by Pakistani courts, but had called for the overthrow of the government and for a strict version of Islamic sharia law to be imposed.

A website, which he helped run, in a statement after his death said the activist had been “a target of a systematic hate campaign” by a militant political leader and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. (ANI)

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