Activists arrested amid murder backlash fears

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The Independent Online

Police in southern Karachi arrested 15 Shiite Muslim activists in a bid to prevent a violent backlash following the murder of two Shiite Muslim leaders.

Police in southern Karachi arrested 15 Shiite Muslim activists in a bid to prevent a violent backlash following the murder of two Shiite Muslim leaders.

The two Shiites were gunned down yesterday by unidentified assailants on a motorcycle, police said, as they sat together outside an apartment complex where they lived. They were leaders of the Shiite Muslim organization Tehrik-e-Jafria Pakistan, or Organization for Shiite Law in Pakistan.

Hasan Turabi, the group's leader, was among those arrested today, police said. The authorities said they would be detained until after the funerals of the shooting victims - expected later Tuesday.

The latest religiously motivated violence comes just one week after four Sunni Muslims were shot and killed as they returned to their school in central Karachi. The killings caused riots in the southern port city in which another two people died.

Hundreds of people have been killed in religiously motivated violence in Pakistan in recent years. The combatants in the religious feuding are rival members of the Sunni and Shiite sects of Islam.

While most of Pakistan's 140 million people are Sunni Muslim, they generally get along with their Shiite Muslim brethren.

The violence is largely limited to the militant organizations belonging to the two Islamic sects.

No one took responsibility for the latest round of violence, but the murders of Shiite Muslims have previously been blamed on the Sipah-e-Sahaba, or guardians of the Friends of the Prophet, one of the most violent and heavily armed Sunni Muslim groups.

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