Gunmen shot dead a Pakistani human rights activist on Friday after she hosted a talk on the politics of Baluchistan province, where security forces are fighting a separatist insurgency, police and associates said.
Sabeen Mahmud was leaving her Karachi bookstore and cafe, The Second Floor — which also holds exhibitions and talks — when gunman attacked her in her car. Her mother, who was with her, was wounded, police said.
"Two gunmen on a motorcycle shot her. She was taken to hospital where she was pronounced dead," senior police official Tariq Dharejo said, adding police were investigating the killing.
Mahmud had just hosted a seminar called "Unsilencing Baluchistan," focusing on the disappearance of political activists in the southwestern province. The talk was originally due to be held early this month at a university in Lahore but authorities blocked it, media reported at the time.
Rights activists accuse the security forces of carrying out extra-judicial killings of separatists in the province. Hundreds of people have disappeared and later been found dead in recent years. The security forces deny any role in the killings.
Besides her cafe, Mahmud was also known as one of Pakistan's innovative "hacktivists." In 2013, she developed a site called "Nafrat Aggregator," which allowed users to submit hateful messages they discover online in order to shame the perpetrator.
In the hours since her death, an outpouring of support for Mahmud on social media has sent the hashtag #RIPSabeen trending.
"#SabeenMahmud was a true hero, brave/fearless and had convictions. Pakistan is poorer without her," tweeted Pakistani journalist Murtaza Ali Shah.
Al Jazeera and Reuters