MQM Leader Killed in London, Tension in Karachi

London/Karachi, Sep 17 (IANS) Prominent Pakistani politician and Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) leader Imran Farooq was stabbed to death outside his home in London, causing panic in Pakistan's Karachi city Friday where life in most places came to a virtual standstill after news of his killing spread.

Farooq was repeatedly stabbed in the head and neck during the assault in Edgware, north London Thursday night.

"Officers found a single Asian man aged 50 with multiple stab wounds and head injuries," said a spokesman for the Metropolitan Police. "Paramedics attended the man but he was pronounced dead at the scene."

Farooq was to attend the birthday celebration of MQM chief Altaf Hussain Thursday night at the party headquarters on London's Edgware Road, media reports said.

"I have lost a personal friend and trustworthy colleague," Hussain said about his right-hand man and MQM convener.

Investigators told the Daily Telegraph that it was too early to say whether the killing was politically motivated.

Farooq had claimed asylum in Britain after spending seven years on the run. He had moved to London in 1992 after a crackdown was launched by Pakistan's military against the MQM. He was accused of a range of charges, including murder and torture.

When news of Farooq's brutal killing reached Pakistan's Karachi city, there was panic and parts of the throbbing metropolis ground to a halt.

Several eateries that usually remain open throughout the night were closed immediately after the news broke out.

Petrol pumps were closed and two vehicles were burnt by an angry mob, while there was no traffic to be seen in a few areas of the city.

MQM party leaders gathered at the residence of Imran Farooq's parents to offer their condolences.

MQM deputy convener Farooq Sattar termed it a great loss for the party and announced 10-day mourning.

"All party affairs will remain suspended during this period while the birthday celebrations of party chief Altaf Hussain have also been cancelled," Sattar told reporters in Karachi.

There were moving scenes outside Farooq's parents' house and the MQM headquarters, but there was no immediate confirmation of plans for the funeral.

"We will decide after consulting with the family," Sattar said.

MQM has a political stronghold in Karachi and other urban areas in Sindh province.

The city has been witness to killings of political workers during the last couple of years and this was the second high-profile target of MQM after provincial legislator Raza Haider was killed last month.


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