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Saudi diplomat killed in southern Pakistan

Investigating officers believe the shooting was motivated by anger over Saudi Arabia’s decision to send troops to Bahrain to quell anti-government protests there.

A Pakistani cameraman records video of a Saudi consulate employee who was shot dead in Karachi, Pakistan on Monday.
A Pakistani cameraman records video of a Saudi consulate employee who was shot dead in Karachi, Pakistan on Monday.
Image: Shakil Adil/AP/Press Association Images

A SAUDI ARABIAN diplomat was killed by gunmen riding on a motorbike as he was driving in Pakistan’s largest city on Monday, just days after two hand grenades were tossed at the Arab state’s consulate building, police in Karachi said.

The police believe the primary motive was sectarian tension between Islam’s Sunni and Shiite branches. But the attack also follows the killing of Saudi-born Osama bin Laden in an American raid on May 2.

Al-Qaeda is a fierce opponent of the Saudi regime and has sworn revenge for the death of bin Laden. But no one immediately claimed responsibility for the diplomat’s slaying.

A spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, the country’s most high profile militant group, called The Associated Press to say it did not kill the diplomat.

The spokesman, Ahsanullah Ahsan, added: “Although we believe Saudi Arabia is an even bigger slave to America than Pakistan, we are not involved in today’s killing.”

Tariq Dharejo, a police investigator in Karachi, said officers believe the shooting was motivated by anger over Saudi Arabia’s decision to send troops to Bahrain to quell protests by Shiites, who comprise 70 percent of the population there but are excluded from key positions in the Sunni-dominated government.

Saudi Arabia is almost entirely Sunni.

Sunni-Shiite tensions trace back to a seventh century dispute over the true heir to Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.

Monday’s attack took place not far from the consulate building. The diplomat — who was driving a silver Toyota Corona and was alone — appeared to be on his way to work, said police officer Zameer Husain Abbasi.

He said a 9 mm pistol was used in the assault.

The victim, identified as Hasan Khattani, was a member of the security staff at the consulate, said Iqbal Mehmood, Karachi’s deputy inspector of police.

He said the shooting was carried out by two men on a motorbike and appeared to be linked to last week’s grenade attack on the mission, which caused some damage but no injuries.

- AP

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