London

Pakistani politician Imran Farooq murdered in London

An exiled Pakistani politician has been murdered outside his home in north London, leaders of his party have said.

Imran Farooq, a senior member of the MQM party who has been in London since 1999, was attacked in Green Lane, Edgware, on Thursday evening.

The Metropolitan Police said a 50-year-old man had died after suffering multiple stab wounds and head injuries.

The investigation into his death has now been taken over by SO15, Scotland Yard's counter-terrorism command.

Officers are working on the assumption that Mr Farooq's murder was politically motivated.

Raza Haroon, a member of the MQM central co-ordination committee, said Mr Farooq had sought asylum in the UK as he was under "threat".

The "prominent and popular leader" was living with his wife and two sons in Green Lane.

Following the killing, the security of other political figures from Pakistan living in London is now being reviewed.

The MQM (Muttahida Qaumi Movement) has declared a 10-day mourning period and violence has been reported in Karachi, with cars being set alight and guns fired across the city. It is understood nobody has been killed or injured.

Hundreds of party activists have converged on Mr Farooq's family home in the centre of Karachi, the largest city in Pakistan and the main base of support for the MQM.

Police in London were called to reports of a serious assault at 1730 BST on Thursday. Mr Farooq was treated by paramedics but declared dead at the scene about an hour later. No arrests have been made.

A Met spokesman said: "When officers arrived they found an Asian male, aged 50, suffering from multiple stab wounds and head injuries.

"He was treated by paramedics at the scene but was pronounced dead at 1837."

Mr Haroon said: "The main reason he came to live in London was to seek asylum. The threat was there and he was very much aware of it.

"Nobody could really have thought that this act of violence could happen in London, but at this moment we do not know what happened."

"The family was in shock and we cannot imagine how they are feeling."

He said Mr Farooq was "taking control of the party from his hiding place".

It is believed the London headquarters of his party moved several months ago as a result of security concerns.

Mr Farooq disappeared from Pakistan in 1992 and is known to have been living in exile in London since 1999, when he claimed asylum in the UK.

'Violent' past

He is understood to have been wanted by Pakistani security forces and said in 1999 he had spent the previous seven years in hiding in Karachi.

The former Pakistani parliamentarian was one of the founding members of the MQM, a former opposition party which is now part of the ruling PPP-led alliance.

Image caption The politician was stabbed repeatedly in Green Lane

The party said it had declared a 10-day mourning period in Pakistan and in its offices across the world.

Leaders said they expected to take Mr Farooq's body back to Karachi for burial after legal formalities had been completed.

The BBC's Shoaib Hasan in Karachi said he had spoken to party members and added "there's a lot of grief and a lot of sorrow going around".

He said the activists who had headed to the dead politician's Karachi home appeared grief stricken and angry and many were weeping openly.

Our correspondent added: "I spoke to an MQM leader who was at the home of Imran Farooq in Karachi with his parents. They said that they are relying totally on the Metropolitan Police, that they have great faith in the Metropolitan Police."

He said Mr Farooq was in essence the party's deputy leader and added he had not returned to Pakistan since his arrival in England in the 1990s.

Our correspondent said the MQM had had a "violent" past.

In 1999 Mr Farooq told the BBC charges against him in his home country were politically motivated.

At the time he said he intended to campaign against the Pakistani government of the day from exile in Britain.

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