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Sunni militant leader's death sparks riots

The leader of a banned Sunni Islam militant outfit was shot dead in southern Pakistan on Monday, sparking sectarian rioting in Pakistan's biggest city Karachi, police said.

world Updated: Aug 18, 2009 01:45 IST

The leader of a banned Sunni Islam militant outfit was shot dead in southern Pakistan on Monday, sparking sectarian rioting in Pakistan's biggest city Karachi, police said.

Allamma Ali Sher Haideri was killed along with one of his associates in the shooting at Pir Jo Goth village, Khairpur district, in southern Sindh province, senior police official Pir Muhammed Shah told AFP.

He said the attacker was killed after Haideri's guards returned fire, and that several of Haideri's men were wounded in the incident.

Haideri led the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), a Sunni extremist outfit blamed for a string of sectarian attacks across Pakistan against Shiites.

The killing sparked rioting in the volatile southern port city Karachi, the capital of Sindh province, where angry mobs burnt a bus and a car and fired gunshots into the air, witnesses and police said.

"One of our police officials and two others were injured in the firing by the armed men during rioting," city police chief Waseem Ahmad told AFP.

He said police arrested seven men belonging to SSP from a city mosque, and recovered weapons and ammunition from their possession.

Shah said earlier that all shops and business had also shut their doors in Khairpur district, around 400 kilometres (250 miles) north of Karachi.

"We have deployed a maximum police force in the district while paramilitary Rangers are also there to help us," he said.
Life came to standstill as strikes were observed in towns across Sindh province and in parts of neighbouring Punjab province, residents said.

"Police... were deployed in sensitive areas and we are protecting the life and property of the people," said Salman Chaudhry, the police chief in Jhang town, where SSP was formed in the early 1980s.

Shiites account for about 20 percent of Pakistan's mostly Sunni Muslim population of 160 million. More than 4,000 people have died in outbreaks of sectarian violence in Pakistan since the late 1980s.