Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has condemned the killing of prominent women’s rights activist Sabeen Mahmud in the port city of Karachi and has ordered an investigation into the attack.
The United States Embassy in Islamabad also condemned Mahmud's slaying and offered condolences to her family, relatives and friends.
Gunmen on a motorcycle killed Mahmud late Friday, just hours after she held a forum on restive, southeastern Baluchistan province, police said. Baluchistan is known as the home of a long-running insurgency in Pakistan.
While the investigators have declined to give details on the possible motive for the killing of Mahmud, friends and colleagues described her death as a targeted assassination.
The Pakistani activist, who ran Karachi's Second Floor cafe, known locally as T2F, and her mother, Mehnaz Mahmud, were on their way home from the cafe when they were attacked. She died on her way to the hospital. Doctors said they extracted five bullets from her body. Her mother, who was also shot, remains in critical condition
Earlier in the day, Mahmud had hosted an event at the cafe about rights abuses in Baluchistan, featuring two prominent Baluch rights activists, Abdul Qadeer Baluch and Farzana Baluch, among other speakers.
Qadeer Baluch, known widely as Mama or “Uncle” in Urdu, hinted at the government's possible involvement in Mahmud's slaying. ”Everybody knows who killed her and why,” Baluch told Pakistan's The Nation newspaper, without elaborating.
At T2F, a bookstore and cafe patterned after the old coffeehouse culture of Lahore and Karachi, Mahmud hosted poetry readings, computer workshops and other events. T2F says on its website that it was born out of a desire to enact transformational change in urban Pakistani society.