Top cleric escapes, two guards killed in gun attack in Pakistan’s Karachi

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Mufti Taqqi Usmani's Vehicle targeted by unidentified armed men (Photo Courtesy: Arab News)
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Police chief of district east, Amir Farooqui, meeting Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani at hospital after assassination bid on his life here on Friday, March 22, 2019. ( Photo by Sindh Police)
Updated 22 March 2019

Top cleric escapes, two guards killed in gun attack in Pakistan’s Karachi

  • Darul Uloom’s Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani unhurt in attack on convoy by four gunmen
  • Scholar Maulana Amir Shahabullah in critical condition

KARACHI: Prominent Pakistani cleric Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani narrowly escaped while religious scholar Maulana Amir Shahabullah was critically wounded in a gun attack on their convoy in the port city of Karachi on Friday, police said.

Two guards were killed in the attacks that city police chief Dr Amir Shaikh said could have a sectarian motive but were more likely an attempt to kill a major religious figure in Karachi “to terrorise the people.”

Both clerics are affiliated with the Darul Uloom seminary in Karachi. Usmani is also a former judge of the Supreme Court Shariah court and a permanent member of the International Islamic Fiqh Academy, an organ of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

“Mufti Taqi Usmani has remained safe in the attack,” Shaikh said, adding that both incidents occurred within ten to twenty minutes of each other on the Nipa flyover in the seaside metropolis.

The head of Karachi’s Counter-Terrorism Department, Raja Umar Khattab, said four gunmen on two motorbikes opened fire on two cars that were travelling together. He said Usmani was the main target.

Saud Usmani, Usmani’s nephew, said the cleric’s wife and two grandchildren were also present in the car but escaped unhurt “as the driver continued to drive despite being hurt.”

Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah has ordered the immediate arrest of the attackers and sought a report from police.

Coronavirus takes further toll on Pakistani media 

Updated 28 May 2020

Coronavirus takes further toll on Pakistani media 

  • Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) calls on media organizations to enforce stricter safety rules
  • More than 150 journalists are known to have tested positive for COVID-19

KARACHI: Three Pakistani media staff lost their battle with the coronavirus on Thursday, as pressure is mounting on news organizations to protect their workers.
Two Radio Pakistan employees, Urdu newscaster Huma Zafar and senior broadcast engineer Muhammad Ashfaq died of COVID-19 on Thursday morning, the radio confirmed in a statement.
Also in the morning, 92 News senior reporter Fakhruddin Syed succumbed to the disease.
“Fakhruddin Syed is the first journalist from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa who lost his life due to this pandemic. He was one of the pioneers from 92 News HD channel,” 92 News said in an obituary on its website.
Last week, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) appealed to media organizations to enforce stricter safety rules, as more journalists have been sent into the field since the country lifted the remaining restrictions imposed on businesses to slow the pandemic.
The PFUJ’s COVID-19 committee head, Zulfiqar Ali Mehto, told Arab News on May 21 that the majority of the infected were reporters, cameramen and photojournalists, which implies that they had contracted the virus during field coverage.
Newsrooms are not safe either, according to PFUJ.
“We have rigorously worked on collecting data and have analyzed each case, which tells us that protective measures are not being taken seriously. If a single person is infected, given almost zero space between workstations, the virus may spread across the whole office,” Mehto said, adding that few media organizations provided hand sanitizers, face masks and gloves to their staff.
More than 150 journalists are known to have tested positive for the virus, according to PFUJ’s last week’s report. 
With Thursday’s victims, at least six Pakistani media workers have died of the disease.