Several cities in the Sindh province including the capital Karachi were tense after the killing of Ali Sher Haideri, the spiritual leader of the extremist group, Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan.

Mr. Haideri was shot dead in his car while he was returning to Hyderabad from the Sindh city of Khairpur on Monday after addressing a public gathering. His driver was also killed in the attack.

The SSP, which aims to have Pakistan declared a Sunni state and is held responsible for many acts of anit-Shia violence, was banned by the Musharraf regime in 2002 as a terror group along with other militant outfits. But it has continued with its militant extremist activities quite openly. It reinvented itself, first as Millat-e-Islamia and later as Ahle Sunnat-wal Jamat, but is still widely known by its original name.

The group was recently named by a provincial minister, police and district officials in the Punjab province as having a hand in the anti-Christian violence in Gojra near Faisalabad, in which seven people were killed.

The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, said to be behind several terror strikes in Pakistan, including the 2004 assassination attempts on former President Pervez Musharraf, is a splinter group of the SSP. The LJ is known to be associated with the Taliban and the Al-Qaeda, and was speculatively named for the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore.

Following the killing of Mr. Haideri, incidents of arson and violence were reported in parts of Karachi, while other citiesremained tense after armed SSP cadres forced shops to shut down.

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