Police officers inspect a car after unidentified gunmen carried an attack on a prominent Pakistani cleric in Karachi, Pakistan, March 22, 2019.
Police officers inspect a car after unidentified gunmen carried an attack on a prominent Pakistani cleric in Karachi, Pakistan, March 22, 2019.

ISLAMABAD - A prominent Islamic scholar in Pakistan survived an assassination attempt Friday that killed his two security guards and critically injured two other people, police said.

Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani and his fellow cleric, Maulana Aamir Shahab, were traveling in two cars in the southern city of Karachi when unknown gunmen on motorbikes ambushed them and opened fire, senior police official Amir Farooqi told reporters. The assailants managed to flee, he said.

Farooqi added that Usmani's wife also was traveling with him in the car, but both escaped uninjured.

In Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, incidents of political, ethnic, militant and criminal violence routinely occur.

A spokesperson at one of the city's main hospitals described Shahab's condition as critical, saying he received "multiple bullet wounds in the head and chest and has been placed on a ventilator."

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan strongly condemned the attack.

"Scholars such as Mufti Usmani are assets to the country and the Islamic world," a statement quoted Khan as saying. He instructed provincial authorities to bring the attackers to justice and enhance security of religions scholars.

Usmani, a former Supreme Court judge, is currently the head of Pakistan's largest religious seminary of the Deobandi sect in Karachi.