Karachi: Four Shiite Muslims, including two doctors, were shot dead by gunmen on Monday in different parts of Pakistan`s port city of Karachi in apparent sectarian attacks.
Dr Naseem Zaidi was gunned down by unidentified gunmen on a motorcycle when he was going to his clinic. Another doctor, Sher Ali, was gunned down in Manghopir area of the city.
Two other Shiite Muslims were killed in New Karachi when gunmen barged into a tailor`s shop and opened fire. Three persons were also injured in the incident.
"The killings appear to be sectarian motivated," senior police official Imran Shaukat said.
Security has already been beefed up ahead of the Muslim holy month of Muharram which begins from Wednesday with Shia Muslims observing Ashura or the tenth day of the month next Friday.
Aamir Farooqi, a senior police official, said steps had already been taken to avoid terror activities or sectarian killings during Muharram particularly after the death of Tehreek-e-Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud.
"There could be a backlash and we are taking no chances as extremist outfits try to fan sectarian violence during Muharram," he said.
In the past few months there has been a rise in the killings of Shia doctors and on October 10, doctors from the minority community held demonstrations to highlight the rise in violence against them.
According to the demonstrators, as many as 21 doctors have been kidnapped so far in the last two years and 14 were killed in targeted attacks.
Shias make up around a fifth of Pakistan`s predominantly Sunni Muslim population.