Saudi consulate staffer shot dead in Karachi

May 16th, 2011 - 10:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Karachi/Riyadh, May 16 (IANS) Four men riding two motorcycles Monday shot dead a Saudi consulate officer in Pakistan’s Karachi city, only five days after grenades were hurled at the consulate, police said.

Hassan al-Qahtani, who headed the consulate’s security division, died instantly when a bullet tore through his head, media reports quoted police as saying.

The man was driving to his office when the assailants struck on the Khayaban-e-Shahbaz road. The gunmen sped away after the incident, leaving behind no apparent clues.

The Pakistani Taliban quickly claimed responsibility for the audacious attack, Al-Arabiya TV channel said. A spokesman for the radical group said it had carried out the operation using four men riding motorcycles.

“The victim received one bullet in his head and died on the spot,” a senior police officer said. The Saudi consulate staffer had no bodyguards when he died.

The Saudi consulate in Karachi, Pakistan’s biggest city, has been closed for a week following the incident.

Saudi Arabia condemned the attack and called it a “criminal attack”, said state-run SPA news agency.

The Saudi foreign ministry said it had asked the Pakistan government to strengthen security at the Saudi consulate in Karachi and the embassy in Islamabad.

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have close political and diplomatic ties. Saudi Arabia was the only country apart from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that recognised the erstwhile Pakistan-backed Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

Monday’s attack took place five days after grenades were lobbed at the Saudi consulate building in Karachi. That caused only minor damage.

Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani expressed sorrow over the killing.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik ordered better security around the Saudi consulate and security to Saudi nationals living in Pakistan.

It was not immediately clear why the Saudi consulate was bombed and the staffer killed. Police sources believe they may be linked to the American killing of Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden May 2.

On May 13, the Pakistani Taliban also claimed responsibility for the suicide attack in Charsadda near the Afghan border that left more than 80 newly-trained troopers dead.

Both Al Qaeda and Pakistani Taliban have vowed to avenge Osama’s death in Pakistan and in other parts of the world.

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