Islamabad: A Muttahida Qaumi Movement leader contesting Pakistan`s upcoming polls was shot dead by Taliban fighters in southern Sindh province on Thursday, becoming the first candidate to die during the election campaign.
Two armed men riding a motorcycle shot at Fakhrul Islam, 46, outside his home in Halanaka area of Hyderabad city this afternoon.
Islam was hit by several bullets in the head and stomach and died instantly, police officials said.
The gunmen escaped after the attack.
Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan claimed responsibility for the attack in phone calls to media groups. He warned that the militants would carry out more such attacks.
Ihsan said the killing of Islam was part of the Taliban`s "war" against secular parties like the MQM, Pakistan People`s Party and Awami National Party.
He claimed these parties were responsible for the "genocide" of tribal people and Muslims while in power for the past five years.
Islam had filed nomination papers to contest polls to both the Sindh Assembly and the National Assembly or lower house of parliament.
The Taliban have threatened to attack election rallies of the MQM, PPP and ANP for opposing the militants. Though the Taliban have frequently targeted ANP leaders and workers in the northwest, they have rarely claimed responsibility for attacks in Sindh province.
In January, suspected Taliban fighters shot dead MQM legislator Manzar Imam along with two police guards and a driver in Karachi.
The top leadership of the MQM deplored the killing of Islam and said it was the duty of the caretaker government to provide security to candidates contesting the May 11 polls.
The MQM called for the immediate arrest of Islam`s killers and demanded effective measures for protecting candidates and political workers engaged in election activities.
Caretaker Prime Minister Mir Hazar Khan Khoso directed authorities to beef up the security of all candidates participating in the polls.