In this picture taken Friday, April 24, 2015, Pakistani police officers
examine the damaged car of a prominent women's rights activist Sabeen
Mehmud following an attack on Mehmud in Karachi, Pakistan Friday, April
24, 2015. Police in Pakistan say gunmen have killed the prominent
women's rights activist in the hours after she held a forum about the
country's restive Baluchistan region. Senior police officer Zafar Iqbal
says gunmen attacked Sabeen Mehmud on Friday night as she returned to
her Karachi home with her mother, who was wounded in the assault.
Photo: Shakil Adil, APBy ADIL JAWAD, Associated Press
Updated 4:27 am, Saturday, April 25, 2015
Pakistan (AP) — Gunmen on a motorcycle killed a prominent women's
rights activist in Pakistan just hours after she held a forum on the
country's restive Baluchistan region, home to a long-running insurgency,
police said Saturday.
investigators declined to speculate on a motive for the killing of
Sabeen Mehmud, friends and colleagues immediately described her death as
a targeted assassination in Pakistan, a country with a nascent
democracy where the military and intelligence services still hold
The gunmen shot both Mehmud and her mother, Mehnaz Mehmud
, as they stopped at a traffic light Friday night in an upscale Karachi neighborhood, senior police officer Zafar Iqbal
said. Later, journalists saw their car at a nearby police station, the
front driver's side window smashed out and a pair of sandals on the
floorboard, broken glass all around them. Blood stained the car's
men riding a motorcycle opened fire on the car," Iqbal said. Mehmud
"died on her way to the hospital. Her mother was also wounded."
, a close friend of Mehmud, told The Associated Press
that Mehmud was driving at the time of attack and her mother was
sitting next to her. Chughtai said Mehmud's driver, who escaped
unharmed, was sitting in the back seat at the time of the attack. She
said she did not know why the driver wasn't driving the car.
and other police officials declined to offer a motive for the slaying.
However, earlier that night, Mahmud hosted an event at her organization
called The Second Floor to discuss human rights in Baluchistan, an
impoverished but resource-rich southwestern province bordering Iran.
of people have disappeared from the province in recent years amid a
government crackdown on nationalists and insurgent groups there.
Activists blame the government for the disappearances, something
an activist who last year led a nearly 3,000-kilometer (1,900-mile)
protest march across Pakistan to demand justice for the missing in
Baluchistan, attended Mehmud's event Friday night. Baluch, known widely
as Mama or "Uncle" in Urdu, hinted that the government could be involved
in Mehmud's slaying.
"Everybody knows who killed her and why," Baluch told Pakistan's The Nation newspaper, without elaborating.
In a statement Saturday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif
condemned Mehmud's killing and ordered an investigation into the attack. The U.S. Embassy
in Islamabad also condemned Mehmud's slaying and offered condolences to her loved ones.
Mehmud was "a courageous voice of the Pakistani people and her death represents a great loss," it said.
a well-known activist who also ran a small tech company, hosted poetry
readings, computer workshops and other events at The Second Floor. She
continued to live in Karachi, Pakistan's southern port city, even while
acknowledging the danger from insurgent groups and criminals
"Fear is just a line in your head," Mahmud told Wired magazine
in 2013. "You can choose what side of that line you want to be on."
Associated Press writer Munir Ahmed
in Islamabad contributed to this report.