A gunman on a motorcycle shot dead a lawyer from a persecuted Muslim sect in central Pakistan on Thursday, police said, in an attack claimed by an Islamic State-linked militant group.
Malik Saleem Lateef, a relative of 1979 Nobel Prize-winning physicist Abdus Salaam, was killed on his way to a court complex in the Nankana Sahib district of Punjab province. “He was going to the district courts with his son, also a lawyer, when an unidentified motorcyclist shot him,” said police official Nazim Ali. “The bullet struck Lateef in his chest, killing him on the spot, while his son sustained minor injuries.”
Police said the attacker was wearing a security guard’s uniform and fled the scene.
The al-Alami faction of the banned Sunni sectarian Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which has ties to the Middle East-based Islamic State group, claimed responsibility in a statement sent to journalists.
Lateef’s son Malik Awais told AFP he believed his father was killed for being an Ahmadi, a minority religious group legally declared non-Muslims by Pakistan in 1974, and long persecuted across the country.
Six Ahmadis were murdered because of their beliefs last year, according to an annual report published by the community and released on Wednesday.
The latest killing came as Pakistan’s foreign ministry said a U.S. State Department adviser on religious minorities had met with a government official, who told him the country had “rejected the politics of hate and divisiveness” and had an “unflinching” resolve to protect minorities.