Renowned ‘qawwal’ shot dead in Karachi

Amjad Sabri ... victim
Updated 23 June 2016
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Renowned ‘qawwal’ shot dead in Karachi

KARACHI: One of Pakistan’s best known Sufi musicians was shot dead by unknown assailants on a motorcycle in Karachi on Wednesday, triggering an outpouring of grief over what police described as an “act of terror.”

Amjad Sabri, aged around 45, was traveling by car with a companion in the city’s Liaqatabad area, when a motorcycle pulled up alongside the vehicle and the attackers opened fire, Farooq Sanjarani, a police officer told AFP.
Sabri was hit by five bullets and was declared dead at Abbasi Shaheed Hospital while his companion, named as a relative, Saleem Sabri, was in critical condition, a hospital source added.
“It was a targeted killing and an act of terrorism,” Muqaddas Haider, another senior police officer said, without naming possible suspects.
Sabri was a ‘Qawwal’, or singer of ‘Qawwali’, that is popular across South Asia with roots tracing back to the 13th century. The music is closely associated with Sufism.
The Taliban and other militant groups have carried out major attacks on Sufi sites and shrines in recent years, including the 2010 bombing in Lahore that killed more than 40 people.
Sabri, the son of another legendary Qawwali singer, Ghulam Farid Sabri who died in 1994, was a fixture on national television and regularly performed on a morning show during the ongoing holy month of Ramadan.
In May 2014 he was asked by a court to respond to blasphemy charges following the airing of a controversial song-and-dance routine that was set to a Qawwali piece. His killing was met with shock and condemnation by many.
“Totally shocked to hear the news of @AmjadSabri. May Allah bless him with heaven,” tweeted Ayaz Sadiq, the speaker of Pakistan’s Parliament.
“Shocked and saddened by news of the killing of Amjad Sabri, not just a crime but an attack on our culture and heritage,” added Mustafa Qadri, a human rights researcher at Amnesty International.
While the motive behind the killing was not immediately clear, Arieb Azhar, another popular Sufi singer, told AFP he believed Sabri may have been targeted because of his views.
“Our own dear Amjad Sabri, son of Ghulam Farid Sabri and nephew of Maqbool Sabri, the renowned Sabri brothers, was a true lover of all that’s good,” he said.
“His mission of love has tragically been cut short by those who spread hate in the world, and is a great loss for all the divided people of our country,” he added.
Karachi, a city of 20 million and Pakistan’s economic hub, is frequently hit by religious, political and ethnic violence.
Paramilitary forces began a sweeping crackdown on militants in the city in 2013, which has led to a substantial drop in overall levels of violence.


Police called to suspect package near British parliament

Updated 25 sec ago
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Police called to suspect package near British parliament

  • British police said they were investigating a suspicious package near the defense ministry
  • Cordons and road closures have been put in place

LONDON: British police said they were investigating a suspicious package near the defense ministry on Wednesday, and had closed roads while they dealt with the incident.
A Reuters photographer saw a bomb disposal robot at the scene after police said they were investigating the package at Embankment Gardens, near the Ministry of Defense, to the north of the Houses of Parliament.
“Police were called ... to reports of a suspicious package at Embankment Gardens,” a police spokesman said in a statement, adding that the ambulance and fire services were also at the scene. “Cordons and road closures have been put in place.”