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Pakistani Police Arrest Hundreds

September 18, 1998

LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) _ A prominent Shiite Muslim leader was gunned down in eastern Punjab province on Thursday just hours after police arrested at least 200 people in a crackdown on rival Islamic groups, police said.

In recent months scores of people have been killed throughout the country in the ongoing feud between militant members of Sunni and Shiite Muslim groups.

Agha Wajeeb Abbas Naqvi, a leader of the Shiite Muslim group Tehrik-e-Jafria of Pakistan, was shot by two men on a motorcycle. An 8-year-old boy was wounded in the shooting, police said.

No one was arrested, although police believe the gunmen may have belonged to the militant Sunni group Sipah-e-Shaba, or Guardians of the Friends of the Prophet.

Those arrested earlier Thursday in the eastern Punjab capital of Lahore were both Shiite and Sunni Muslim activists.

Supporters of Sipah-e-Sahaba threatened to storm jails to free its members unless they are released by next week, the group’s spokesman Saifullah Khallid told The Associated Press.

A key leader, Shoaib Nadeem, and three others members of the Sunni group were murdered by four gunmen on a highway near Islamabad on Sunday. The killing set off widespread demonstrations, including militants setting fire to a Shiite mosque and three houses in Wah Town, some 24 miles west of Islamabad on Monday night.

About 200 Sunnis were arrested in those demonstrations on Monday. Police said another 200 militants, including Sunni and Shiites, were arrested on Thursday in the Lahore region.

Nadeem’s group is suspected in the Sept. 8 murder of Murid Hussein, a leader of Tehrik-e-Jafria Pakistan.

Tanvir Naqvi, a spokesman Tehrik-e-Jafria, said a leading member of his group, former federal government minister Monir Gillani, was among the Shiite’s arrested in Lahore, about 150 miles south of Islamabad.

Militant Sunnis, the majority in Pakistan, and extremist Shiite Muslims routinely kill each other a nationwide feud that has intensified in recent years. Most Sunnis and minority Shiites are moderate, however, and live together peacefully.

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