Pakistan Sufi singer Amjad Sabri shot dead in Karachi

media captionAmjad Sabri was one of Pakistan's most famous singers

One of Pakistan's most famous singers, Amjad Sabri, has been shot dead in the southern city of Karachi.

Two gunmen fired on his car in the busy Liaqatabad area, police said. Sabri died on his way to hospital.

A faction of the Pakistani Taliban has told the BBC it carried out the attack.

Sabri was a leading exponent of Sufi devotional music, known as Qawwali. Sufism, a tolerant, mystical practice of Islam, has millions of followers in Pakistan but is opposed by extremists.

The Pakistan Taliban, who view Sufism as heretical, have been blamed for previous assaults on targets linked to Sufi Islam.

But there have been no such attacks in the past couple of years, the BBC's M Ilyas Khan in Islamabad reports.

Sabri, who was among the sub-continent's top Qawwali singers, was hit by five bullets, police said. Another person, thought to be a relative, was wounded in the shooting and is said to be in a critical condition.

"It was a targeted killing and an act of terrorism," a senior police officer, Muqaddas Haider, was quoted by AFP news agency as saying.

image copyrightAP
image captionA forensic expert collects evidence from the car of Amjad Sabri
image copyrightAP
image captionThe attack happened in broad daylight in Liaqatabad district

Pakistanis in shock again - M Ilyas Khan, BBC News, Islamabad

There have been the usual calls to identify and arrest the killers, but also voices of despair over the continued failure to end militancy in Pakistan.

Karachi has been under a military operation for more than three years, but the gunmen have shown they can still hit their targets at will.

Amjad Sabri came from a family which traces its musical links to the 17th Century court of India's Mughal empire. The family adheres to the Sabiriyah branch of Sufi Islam, hence the name Sabri. It migrated to Pakistan when India was divided in 1947, and has been based since then in Karachi.

The band led by Amjad's father, Ghulam Farid Sabri, dominated the Qawwali scene in India and Pakistan during the 1970s and 80s. Amjad himself was considered a great performer who produced both traditional and commercial music and also sang for movie soundtracks in India and Pakistan.

He apparently presented a soft target with a wider shock value.

A blasphemy case was filed against Sabri last year after he mentioned members of the Prophet Muhammad's family in a song.

It is not known if the shooting is related to that incident.

As news of the attack spread, a large crowd gathered outside Sabri's home to express their sorrow and comfort relatives.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the killing and said the singer would be immensely missed.

"Totally shocked to hear the news of @AmjadSabri. May Allah bless him with Jannah (heaven) for he praised Him & His Prophet beautifully all his life," Ayaz Sadiq, the speaker of Pakistan's parliament, wrote on Twitter.

"Terrible loss of Amjad Sabri. His voice touched so many hearts & souls across the globe. Let's not be numbed by these murderous terrorists," tweeted journalist and publisher Najam Sethi.

Journalist Amir Mateen, who formerly worked for the BBC Urdu service, tweeted his dismay at a familiar "pattern" of events. "Politicians cry; public huffs & puffs; then back to normal until next tragedy. Shame," he said.

image copyrightAFP
image captionA large crowd gathered outside the singer's home
image copyrightAP
image captionFriends and neighbours comforted members of Amjad Sabri's family

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