LAHORE -  A 60-year-old professor was found butchered at her official residence in Punjab University’s New Campus on early Tuesday, police and rescue workers said.

Investigators were treating the death as cold-blooded murder. No arrest was made so far. The body was moved to the morgue for autopsy.

Police officials said it was too early to say that Prof Tahira Abdullah was murdered because of her faith. “We can confirm that the lady belonged to Ahmadi community. But we see some other possible motives behind the killing. It could be property dispute or some other matter,” a senior police officer last night told The Nation. The officer, who requested his name not to be mentioned, said they were working on different lines to nab the attackers.

A spokesperson for the Jamaat Ahmadiyya Pakistan said Professor Abdullah was Ahmadi . Mr Saleem Uddin claimed it was very likely that she had been killed because of her faith. “Notable Ahmadis are being targeted in a planned way,” he added.

Sources close to the forensic experts said the lady was killed with a sharp-edge weapon “at least eight to ten hours before” they reached the crime scene. “Apparently, attackers slit her throat open with a knife. She died on the spot because of excessive bleeding,” a police investigator told The Nation after visiting the crime scene. “There were no stab wounds on her other body parts, except her throat and neck. But it seemed the lady resisted the attackers.”

On the other hand, the station house officer told reporters that there was no evidence of burglary or robbery since all doors were found locked. “It seemed the killer was familiar with the lady,” the officer said.

The murder of another Ahmadi professor comes barely one week after a veterinarian doctor of Ahmadi community was killed in a brazen gun-attack in Lahore’s Sabzazaar neighbourhood, in an apparent faith-based attack. Ashfaq Ahmed, a 68-year-old retired professor of the University of Veterinary Sciences in Lahore , was killed when he was traveling in a car along with his grandson and a family friend. On March 30, a prominent Ahmadi leader, and cousin of noble laureate Dr Abdus Salam, was shot dead in Punjab’s district Nankana Sahib.

Tahira, who got retirement most recently, was living alone in Professors Colony. Her only daughter lives in Karachi, police said. She reached Lahore by air on Tuesday evening as police notified her about the death of her mother. Prof Tahira served at the Punjab University’s Molecular Genetics Department, officials said.

According to the university management, Prof Tahira had been working on contract after her retirement.

Tahira’s housemaid disclosed the happening to locals when she reached for work early yesterday. The housemaid alerted the neighbours as the lady did not open the door despite repeated bells. The university’s security guards entered her bedroom after breaking open the door. Later, police and forensic experts reached the crime scene.

The killing appalled many teachers and professors who live in the same colony. The murder comes amid a spate of countrywide targeted killings of liberal voices over faith or allegations of blasphemy.

Locals say the professor was soft-spoken lady. She was living alone at her official residence since the death of her husband. “It’s really shocking (incident). She was a very nice lady and a great teacher (as well). Why someone would kill her so mercilessly?” questioned a university professor , who also requested his name not to be mentioned.

The residents were seen dejected over horrified killing. They said the murder took place despite presence of several security guards inside the Professors Colony.

The area police filed a murder case against unidentified men on the complaint of the victim’s daughter and launched the investigation to unearth the killers.

Police sources said the investigators were going through the CCTV footage collected from the university management to identify the persons who visited the house last night. “The evidence, collected so far, suggests that the professor was murdered on late Monday night. We are investigating the case keeping in view different aspects of the incident,” a police officer said. “We are on it and we will definitely catch the killers.”