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Asia-pacific

Religious affairs minister wounded in gun attack

©

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-09-02

Pakistan’s Minister for Religious Affairs, Hamid Saeed Kazmi (pictured left) was injured in a gun attack in the capital of Islamabad Wednesday that killed his driver. A moderate cleric, Kazmi has been a vocal opponent of the Taliban.

REUTERS - Unidentified gunmen shot and wounded Pakistan's religious affairs minister, Hamid Saeed Kazmi, in an attack in the capital Islamabad on Wednesday that killed his driver, police said.


Kazmi, a cleric and vocal opponent of Pakistan's hardline Taliban, belongs to the Barelvi sect, whose moderate adherents of Islamic sufi mysticism venerate saints and their shrines.


"Gunmen sprayed bullets on the minister's car," said a police officer who identified himself as Qasim.


Pakistan has been braced for retaliatory attacks by Taliban insurgents and groups linked to al Qaeda since a U.S. missile strike killed Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud on Aug. 5.


Local television news channels showed images of Kazmi with what appeared to be a leg wound.


"Mr Kazmi is wounded but stable," said Khalid Hussain, a doctor at Islamabad's Federal Government Services Hospital.


The army launched a campaign in April to clear the Taliban from Swat and Buner, two valleys a few hours drive from Islamabad, and has since bottled up the main militant stronghold in South Waziristan.


Pakistan's show of force has helped allay fears among allies -- particularly the United States and other countries with troops in neighbouring Afghanistan -- that the nuclear-armed country was failing to confront Islamist militancy.

 

Date created : 2009-09-02

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