Islamabad, Pakistan – A member of Pakistan’s Ahmadiyya sect has been shot and killed in the northwestern city of Peshawar, police and a community spokesperson have said, the latest in a series of attacks targeting the persecuted community.
Abdul Qadir, 65, was killed at the entrance to his homoeopathic health clinic on Thursday afternoon in the Bazikhel area of the city, community spokesperson Saleemuddin said in a statement.
“Upon hearing the doorbell of the clinic, [Qadir] opened its door and was shot at the doorstep by the culprit,” said Saleemuddin.
“Mr Qadir was taken immediately to the nearest hospital but due to the severity of his wounds he did not survive the fatal attack.”
Police officials confirmed the attack, saying the man accused of the murder had been arrested. The suspect is approximately 20 years old and his attack appeared to be religiously motivated, said Zafar Khan, a local police official.
“He fired on him once, and that killed him,” said Khan. “[The suspect] says that it was religiously motivated but we will have to find out more through our investigations.”
Members of the Ahmadiyya sect consider themselves Muslim but have been declared “non-Muslim” under Pakistani law. They are subject to the country’s strict blasphemy laws, which criminalise many of their acts of faith.
Members of the Ahmadiyya community are not allowed to refer to themselves as “Muslim”, to their places of worship as “mosques” or to perform other rites, with punishments ranging up to three years in prison.
Uptick in attacks
Last year saw an uptick in attacks on the community, with at least four Ahmadiyya killed in targeted attacks in Peshawar alone.
One of those killed was Tahir Ahmad Naseem, a man accused of blasphemy who was shot six times and killed in a courtroom in Peshawar in July.
Earlier this month, two teenagers in the central Pakistani town of Layyah were arrested for attacking their headmaster, an Ahmadi man, over his faith, local media reported.
“These attacks are creating a sense of deep insecurity amongst the members of the Community while the Ahmadis of Peshawar are living in a deep atmosphere of fear,” said Saleemuddin, the community’s spokesperson.