Lead prosecutor of case involving Musharraf shot dead

Pakistani police officials examine bullet-riddled car of slain government prosecutor Chaudhry Zulfiqar after an attack by gunmen in Islamabad on May 3, 2013 Getty

ISLAMABAD Gunmen shot to death the Pakistani government's lead prosecutor in a high-profile case involving former military ruler Pervez Musharraf on Friday as he drove to court in the capital, Islamabad, police said.

The gunmen fired at Chaudhry Zulfikar from a taxi and hit him in the head, shoulder and chest, said police officer Mohammed Ishaq. Zulfikar then lost control of his car, which hit a woman passer-by and killed her, said another police officer, Mohammed Rafiq.

Zulfikar's guard, Farman Ali, returned fire in the attack and believes he wounded at least one of the attackers, Rafiq said. Ali also was injured in the attack.

Police official Yasin Farooq said the attackers fled after killing Zulfikar, and that a massive search has been launched to find them.

A motive for the killing was unclear, but Zulfikar was involved in two particularly high-profile cases. He was the government's lead prosecutor in a case related to the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in a gun and suicide attack in 2007, said Ishaq.

Government prosecutors have accused Musharraf of being involved in the murder and not providing enough security to Bhutto. Musharraf, who was in power when she was killed, has denied the allegations. He blamed the assassination on the Pakistani Taliban at the time of the attack.

Zulfikar was also the government's lead prosecutor in a case related to the 2008 terrorist attack on the Indian city of Mumbai that killed 166 people. The attack was blamed on the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Pakistan has put seven men on trial on charges they assisted in the Mumbai siege, but the trial has made little progress. India has criticized Pakistan for not doing more to crack down on the militants blamed for the attack. Hafiz Saeed, the head of a group believed to be a front for Lashkar-e-Taiba, remains free, and many believe he enjoys the protection of the government. Lashkar-e-Taiba was founded years ago with the help of Pakistani intelligence to put pressure on India over the disputed territory of Kashmir.

Musharraf returned to Pakistan in March after four years in self-imposed exile to attempt a political comeback despite Taliban death threats and a raft of legal cases against him. But his fortunes have gone from bad to worse since he arrived.

Judges barred him from running in the May 11 parliamentary election not long after he arrived because of his actions while in power. A court in the northwestern city of Peshawar went further this week and banned Musharraf from running for public office for the rest of his life -- a ruling the former military strongman plans to appeal.

Musharraf is currently under house arrest on the outskirts of Islamabad in connection with several cases against him, including the Bhutto case. He also faces allegations of treason before the Supreme Court.

Zulfikar was headed to a hearing related to Musharraf and the Bhutto case at a court in Rawalpindi, next to Islamabad, when he was killed, said Ishaq, the police officer.

Musharraf seized power in a military coup in 1999 when he was serving as army chief and ruled for nearly a decade until he was forced to step down in 2008 because of growing discontent with his rule.

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