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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 October, 2003, 13:12 GMT 14:12 UK
Pakistan riots after militant killed
Supporters of Maulana Azam Tariq go on rampage in Islamabad
Crowds chanted anti-Shia slogans

One man has died in riots in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, following the killing of an Islamic extremist.

Religious students went on the rampage after funeral prayers for Maulana Azam Tariq, a Sunni militant leader who was murdered on Monday.

Tariq, 41, was among five people killed when the vehicle they were travelling in was attacked by gunmen on the outskirts of the capital.

He was the head of the Sunni militant group Sipah-e-Sahaba and a member of parliament. No group has said it carried out the attack.

Correspondents say Sipah-e-Sahaba is one of the most extreme Sunni organisations in Pakistan.

It has been blamed for much of the sectarian violence to have afflicted the country over the past two decades and is accused of having sympathies with the Afghan Taleban.

We will avenge your martyrdom, we will avenge your killing
Crowd chants

Hundreds of people, most of them from the Shia minority, have died in the violence.

The organisation was banned along with other militant groups early last year when President Musharraf launched a crackdown on Islamic extremists.

Cries of revenge

On Tuesday, prayers were held in front of the parliament building, after which crowds moved off to a popular shopping and restaurant area where they set fire to a cinema and damaged shops and cars.

A Shia shrine was also set alight despite appeals for calm.

Police used batons to control the protesters, many of whom hurled abuse at Shias.

The dead man is believed to have been employed in a cinema which was set on fire by the mob.

"We will avenge your martyrdom, we will avenge your killing," the crowds chanted.

"Those who are behind this killing will not be spared," Maulana Masoodur Rehman Osmani, a colleague of Maulana Tariq, told the crowd, as pink petals were showered on his coffin.

Tariq's body was then taken to his birthplace in the city of Jhang, in central Punjab, 250 kilometres (155 miles) south of Islamabad, where his funeral was held.

"I urge all my brothers to stay calm," Mohammad Muavia Tariq, 16-year-old son of the dead leader, told mourners.

Jhang also saw violence against Shias on Tuesday, and one mosque complex was set on fire.

Security has been stepped up in the city, as well as the southern city of Karachi - especially around Christian churches and Shia mosques.

Both Shia and Sunni leaders have been given extra police protection.

In Quetta in the west, shops and markets closed after a strike called by Maulana Tariq's supporters.

Extra security was in place as President Pervez Musharraf was visiting the city.

Jailed MP

Mr Tariq was jailed during a government crackdown on Muslim militants in 2001, but won a seat in parliament while still in prison in October 2002.

He was later released, after a court ruled that the government had not produced enough evidence to hold him.

Maulana Azam Tariq
Tariq was said to have many enemies
He became a supporter of the government of Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali - but still espoused radical anti-Shia views - and MPs and ministers were among those who attended prayers at parliament on Tuesday.

"He was a very upright politician," the Speaker, Chaudhry Ameer Hussain, said.

Interior Minister Faisal Saleh Hayyat said Tariq's killers were aiming to create "unrest and sectarian hatred in the country".

Tariq died on Monday in a hail of bullets fired by three assailants in another car, on his way to attend a session of parliament.

He has always denied accusations of involvement in violence.

Monday's killing came three days after seven people were killed in an attack against a bus carrying Shias in Karachi.

The government has ordered an inquiry into the shooting.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Paul Anderson
"No one has admitted responsibility yet for the attack"



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