ISLAMABAD  - Unidentified gunmen killed a senior member of Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat and another office-bearer in a rare attack in Islamabad on Friday.

According to police officials, Jamaat’s general secretary Mufti Muneer Ahmed Muawiya and an office-bearer Asad Mehmood were targeted after Friday prayers in I-8 sector, a residential area bordering the twin city of Rawalpindi, by two attackers.

Officials believed the gunmen chased Muawiya down and opened fire at his vehicle once they had made sure that the target was inside.

"Two unidentified gunmen sprayed bullets on their car and escaped from the scene on a motorcycle," a police official, Ghazanfar Ahmed, told a foreign news agency. Witnesses added the gunmen had sped off towards Faizabad area of Rawalpindi. A spokesperson for Islamabad Police added Muawiya and Mehmood died instantly, and their bodies were shifted to Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences.

Another police official Muhammed Nawaz, who was at the crime scene, confirmed that the victims were from the ASWJ. An ASWJ official confirmed their activists were targeted. "Our leaders were killed in a targeted attempt on their life," Muhammed Tayyeb Haidri, a spokesperson for ASWJ, said.

He said Muawiya had only been released from Adiala Jail on Thursday and had gone to I-8 sector after leading Friday prayers at G-9 sector.

After the incident, scores of ASWJ activists placed the bodies in I-8 chowk and protested the killing of their two leaders. The charged activists refused to hand over the bodies to police, and demanded immediate arrest of the assassins.

The ASWJ Twitter account suggested the attack was sectarian in nature. But investigation is in progress as police have registered an FIR against the unidentified killers.  There has been a rise in sectarian violence in the country after several clashes near Islamabad in November last year.

Mufti Muneer Muawiya is the second senior ASWJ leader killed within a month’s period.

Many members of ASWJ were the victims of target killings in 2013. Three members of a family, associated with Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat, were gunned down in Karachi in December last year. In the same month, Maulana Shamsur Rehman Muawiya, the chief of ASWJ’s Punjab chapter, was killed by unidentified gunmen along Ravi Road in Lahore. The ASWJ leader was returning home after leading Friday prayers at the Muhammadi Mosque in the Ravi Road locality.

ASWJ has in the past demanded that increased security should be provided to them following frequent attacks on the organisation’s leaders.