MQM MLA gunned down

A Muttahida Qaumi Movement leader and three others, including two policemen, were shot dead by unidentified gunmen in this southern Pakistani port city Thursday, triggering protests by the party's workers.

Manzar Imam, a member of the Sindh Assembly, and a bodyguard were killed instantly in Orangi Town area of Karachi. Two policemen assigned to protect Imam died later in hospital, police officials said.

The attackers, who were riding motorcycles, escaped after the shooting. The Tehreek-e-Taliban have accepted responsibility for the killing of Manzar Imam.

MQM leaders said Imam may have been targeted for speaking out against attacks on the minority Shia community. Immediately after the killing, protests by MQM workers erupted at several places across Pakistan's largest city. The MQM is a member of the Pakistan People's Party-led governments at the centre and in southern Sindh province. Karachi has for long been troubled by political and sectarian violence.

President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf condemned the assassination of Imam. Zardari directed authorities to make every effort to nab the killers.

The MQM announced a three-day mourning period.

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