US doctor killed in Pakistan sectarian attack

Volunteer cardiologist Mehdi Ali Qamar becomes victim of latest attack on country's Ahmadiyya minority community.

    Qamar had been volunteering at a hospital in Rabwah, Punjab, when he was killed [Tahir Heart Institute]
    Qamar had been volunteering at a hospital in Rabwah, Punjab, when he was killed [Tahir Heart Institute]

    An American volunteer cardiologist has been shot dead in Pakistan, according to a member of his minority Ahmadiyya community, in the latest attack on the minority group.

    Mehdi Ali Qamar had taken his wife, young son and a cousin to a graveyard in Punjab province at dawn to pray on Monday when he was shot, Salim ud Din, a spokesman for the Ahmadiyya community, said.

    Qamar, was shot 11 times by two people riding a motor bike.

    Reuters news agency reported quoting Din that Qamar had arrived in Pakistan just two days earlier to do volunteer work at the Tahir Heart Institute, a state-of-the-art hospital built by the Ahmadiyya community in the eastern town of Rabwah.

    Qamar, who was born in Pakistan but moved abroad in 1996, lived in Columbus, Ohio, in the US, where he founded an Ahmadiyya centre and raised funds for medical charities in Pakistan, Din said.

    Qamar is survived by a wife and three young sons.

    The US embassy said it was providing consular assistance but declined to give further details.

    "We express our deepest condolences to his family and friends," the embassy spokeswoman said.

    Qamar's killing follows the fatal shooting of Khalil Ahmad, a 61-year-old Ahmadi man, last week.

    A teenager killed Ahmad in police custody after he was arrested on blasphemy charges for objecting to stickers denouncing his religion.

    Seven Ahmadis were killed and 16 survived attempted assassinations last year, according to an annual report produced by the Ahmadiyya community in Pakistan.

    Others were driven from their homes or had their businesses seized.

    Mustafa Qadri, the Pakistan researcher for Amnesty International, told Al Jazeera that his organisation regularly receives reports about people attacking the  Ahmadiyya community  "safe in the knowledge that the state will do practically nothing to bring them to justice".

    He added that the Pakistani government's failure to act would "embolden" those who sought to persecute the country's minorities.

    The Ahmadiyya community has long been the target of attacks by sectarian outfits and is designated as "non-Muslim" by the Pakistani government.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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