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6 men found with throats cut at Pakistan shrine ‘Stop visiting shrines ... Pakistani Taleban’

KARACHI, Jan 7, (Agencies): The bodies of six men with their throats slit have been found near a shrine on the outskirts of Pakistan’s largest city Karachi, police said Tuesday. The corpses were lying near the shrine of Ayub Shah Bukhari, considered a saint by Sufi Muslims. Three of the dead worked at the shrine while the others were frequent visitors. Police said a note reading “Stop visiting shrines — from the Pakistani Taleban” was found at the scene along with a bloodstained knife.

The Taleban denounce worship at shrines as a grave sin and have carried out many deadly bomb and suicide attacks against Sufis in recent years. Two of the men had been beheaded, while the rest had their throats slit, the policeman said, in the first such instance of a mass killing at a shrine that he knew of. The violent port city of Karachi is heavily infiltrated by the Taleban and has been the site of Taleban-style executions. Mullah Fazlullah was elected head of the Taleban last November and is notorious for directing mass beheadings.

Sufism is a non-violent form of Islam characterised by hypnotic rituals and ancient mysticism that has been practised in Pakistan for centuries, but the insurgents see Sufis as irredeemable heretics who deserve to die. In one of the bloodiest episodes, at least 50 people were killed in April 2011 in a suicide attack on a shrine in the city of Dera Ghazi Khan. But senior police officer Amir Farooqi voiced caution over the note, telling AFP he would not draw any conclusions until further investigation. Police have detained some suspects and sent the bloodstained knife for forensic tests. Karachi, Pakistan’s economic hub, has been plagued for years by ethnic, political, sectarian and criminal violence.

Six bodies were dumped at a Sufi shrine in Pakistan’s southern city of Karachi on Tuesday, accompanied by a note purporting to be from the Taleban saying the men were killed for visiting the shrine, police said. Most Pakistanis are Sufis, a form of worship that emphasises a personal relationship with Allah. The Taleban espouse violent Wahhabi Islam, which rejects many traditional forms of Sufi worship, including worship at shrines. Sectarian violence is increasing across Pakistan, with two Sufi shrines bombed last year in Sindh. The six bodies were found outside the shrine in Karachi on Tuesday morning, with a note claiming to be from the Tehreek-e-Taleban Fazlullah Group, a senior police officer told Reuters.

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