Asia

Mufti Amanullah: Murdered cleric buried in Rawalpindi

Mourners at funeral, Rawalpindi 22 September 2014
Image caption Some 4,000 activists and sympathisers turned out for the funeral

A hardline Sunni prayer leader has been buried in the city of Rawalpindi in Pakistan a day after he was shot dead.

Mufti Amanullah was a leader of the hardline group Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat.

Some 4,000 Sunni activists, madrassa students and sympathisers attended the funeral before dispersing peacefully.

Mufti Amanullah was going to a seminary in the Raja Bazar area on Sunday when he was shot by at least four gunmen on two motorbikes. No group has said it carried out the attack.

At least one person was killed when violence erupted in the aftermath of the shooting.

Local police told the BBC that the man died when protesters, including students from the seminary, burned down a Shia mosque and some shops next to it.

Security was tightened across the city ahead of the funeral - but the BBC's M Ilyas Khan in Rawalpindi says most markets had reopened by Monday afternoon.

Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) used to be known as Sipah-e-Sahaba, an extremist organisation whose goal was to convert Pakistan into a "pure" Sunni state and which was outlawed in 2002.

Maulana Ludhianvi, the Sipah-e-Sahaba leader, addressed mourners at the funeral and accused "those sitting in a container on Constitution Avenue" as being responsible for ASWJ deaths in Rawalpindi.

A Shia alliance, Wahdatul Muslimeen, is allied with anti-government leader Tahirul Qadri's PAT movement in the continuing sit-in in Islamabad.

Thousands of Shias and hundreds of Sunnis have been killed since sectarian violence - carried out by hardliners from both groups - first emerged in Pakistan in the early 1990s.

Clashes erupted in Rawalpindi last year when a Shia procession marking the religious festival of Ashura coincided with a sermon at a Sunni mosque affiliated with the seminary. Ten people were left dead in the violence that followed.

On Thursday the dean of the faculty of Islamic Studies at the University of Karachi, Dr Shakeel Auj, was shot dead but it is as yet unclear if that was a sectarian killing.

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