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Islamic Scholar Killed in Pakistan

May 8, 2002

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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) _ Two gunmen on motorcycles killed a prominent moderate Islamic cleric, his driver and a police officer who chased after the assailants Tuesday night, police and doctors said.

The gunmen sprayed Ghulam Mustaza Malik’s car with bullets in the eastern city of Lahore before speeding off, they said.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the killing of Malik, 65, who lectured regularly on government-run television and radio. Malik, like most Pakistanis, was Sunni Muslim.

Dozens of his friends and followers gathered outside the hospital and his house. The governor of Punjab province, Khalid Maqbool, sent condolences and ordered police to make ``all-out efforts″ to find the killers.

``Malik was very upset by the incidents of sectarian killings and the day before his death he said difficult days are ahead for the country,″ one close friend, Maulana Fahizur Rehman, told reporters.

Since Sept. 11, when President Gen. Pervez Musharraf abruptly ended Pakistan’s support for Afghanistan’s Taliban and backed the U.S.-led coalition in its war on terror, there has been a steady rise in religiously motivated violence.

In January, Musharraf banned five militant Sunni Muslim organizations and one Shiite Muslim group, but the violence has continued.

Less than an hour after Malik was shot, a Shiite Muslim was killed in another drive-by shooting in the port city of Karachi, police said.

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