Gunmen shoot dead secular female politician in Pakistan

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AFP) - Gunmen shot dead a secular female politician from Pakistan's troubled north-west after breaking into her home at night, police said on Saturday.

Ms Najma Hanif, 35, was a senior member of the Awami National Party (ANP), which is known for its outspoken views against the Taleban and backed military operations against the insurgents while it ruled the restive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

The police said the attackers, who have not yet been identified, used a silenced pistol.

"One or two attackers entered the house and killed her," Mr Mohammad Faisal, a senior police officer said.

The motive behind the shooting was unclear but Ms Hanif's husband and son, along with their bodyguard, were killed by a Taleban suicide bomber in November 2011.

The ANP led the province and was a member of the ruling coalition in the centre from 2008 until elections earlier this year.

The party has been relentlessly targeted by the Taleban, losing hundreds of activists, with attacks stepped up during the run up to the May polls.

Cricketer-turned politician Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf has now formed a coalition government in the province, but ANP leaders remain in the militants' sights.

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