Female Pakistani rights activist shot dead in Karachi

KARACHI (AFP) - A female Pakistani rights activist was shot dead by unknown gunmen in Karachi on Friday as she made her way home after hosting a seminar about human rights abuses in Baluchistan province, police said.

Sabeen Mehmood, who runs The Second Floor, a cafe that organises debates and art events, had just left the venue with her mother when her car was attacked by gunmen in the upmarket neighbourhood of Defence.

Mehmood was hit by five bullets and died at the scene, police said. Her mother was injured.

"A woman died in the shooting and another woman was injured in the firing incident," Moeez Pirzada, a spokesman for Sindh police told AFP.

"The incident according to initial inquiry seems to be a result of personal enmity," Pirzada said without elaborating further.

Earlier in the day, Mehmood had hosted a seminar about rights abuses in restive Baluchistan province titled "Un-silencing Baluchistan Take 2", featuring two prominent Baluch rights activists, Mama Abdul Qadeer and Farzana Baluch, among other speakers.

Qadeer and Baluch were meant to speak at another seminar, called "Un-silencing Baluchistan", at the prestigious Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) about two weeks ago, but it was cancelled apparently at the behest of the powerful Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).

Human rights groups have long accused Pakistani security forces and intelligence agencies of serious abuses in Baluchistan, which has been wracked for years by a separatist insurgency.

The security services deny the allegations and say they are battling a fierce rebellion in the province.