KARACHI - A university professor was shot to death in the volatile Karachi on Wednesday in what officials suspected was a targeted killing.

Dr Syed Wahidur Rehman, 42, an assistant professor of mass communication at the University of Karachi, was killed when four attackers, on two motorbikes, intercepted his car near his residence at Block 16, F-B Area in the limits of Yousaf Plaza police station and sprayed it with bullets.

Wahidur Rehman, was also known by his pen name Yasir Rizvi, was also a journalist.

The incident occurred when Rizvi left his home located at Latif Square at around 10:50am. Rizvi, the only son of his parents, was targeted by unknown gunmen on two motorbikes when he was on his way to the varsity as per routine. Rizvi was very much popular among journalists and social circles and was known as a humble and caring man, having no enmity with anyone, said Ali Oust, a journalist.

Police said Prof Rizvi sustained five bullets and died on the way to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital where a large number of his relatives, colleagues and students were present. His body was, later, handed over to his family for burial.

Initially, police believed the motive behind the killing could be sectarian because he was commonly known as Yasir Rizvi though he was a Sunni. Later, the police investigators ruled out the possibility of sectarianism behind the incident. “It is not a case of sectarianism,” said Yousuf Plaza SHO Akram Arain. Police are trying to link the killing of Professor Shakeel Auj with the murder of Dr Rizvi, but his friends ruled out this possibility. Nasir Mehmood, a close friend of Rizvi, said though he had done his PhD under the supervision of Dr Auj, he had not been associated with him.

SHO Arain said the investigation was in progress. The officer said the empty shells of the bullets recovered from the crime scene would also be matched with those used and recovered in other high-profile cases of target killings, particularly that of Prof Auj.

It is worth mentioning that on September last year Shakeel Auj was shot dead in a similar way at University Road when he was on his way to attend a ceremony organised by the Iranian Cultural Centre at which he was going to be awarded Tamgha-e-Imtiaz for his meritorious services in Islamic studies.

Al Qaeda, in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), in his official twitter account, had claimed the responsibility of the killing of Prof Auj and Prof Sibt-e-Jafar. On the other hand, police claimed to have busted a target killers’ group, affiliated with a political party, in January 2015 and held Mansoor, a 55-year-old paramedic of Sindh Government Hospital, responsible for the killing of Prof Auj and Prof Sibt-e-Jafar.

Interestingly, the then CID SSP SSP Operations Fayyaz Khan, in a press conference in April 2013, announced to trace the cases of the professors’ target killings and arrested Lashkar-e-Jhangvi local chief Muhammad Athar alias Khalid and his accomplice Muhammad Shahid alias Churan.

Meanwhile, the funeral prayer of Dr Rizvi, offered at Masjid Gufran, Block 16, FB Area, was attended by a large number of people, including Karachi University Vice Chancellor Dr Muhammad Qaiser, leaders of MQM, journalists, his colleagues and students.

Dr Rizvi who left a widow and two daughters behind was buried at Yasinabad graveyard.

Tausif Ahmed Khan, the former head of the mass communication department at Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science and Technology in Karachi, said that Dr Rehman had no disputes with anyone.

A large crowd of students blocked the main road to the university on Wednesday in a demonstration against Dr Rehman’s killing. The university announced it would suspend academic activities at the campus for two days.

It was the second attack this month on an academic in Karachi. This month an American citizen who works as a vice principal at a medical college was shot and seriously wounded in an attack.