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Gunmen kill Pakistan's top journalist

KARACHI, Dec. 4 -- Two unidentified gunmen killed one of Pakistan's top journalists, Mohammad Salahuddin, Sunday in Karachi. Salahuddin was the editor of 'Takbeer,' the largest circulation weekly in the country. Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has described him as 'journalist par-excellence' and pledged to arrest his assassins. Police said two gunmen approached Salahuddin as he was leaving his office in Karachi's Ancholi area and opened fire at his car with AK-47 assault rifles. He was hit by six bullets and fell onto his seat while one bullet also hit his chauffeur. As the car stopped, one gunman got off the motorbike and fired two more shots into Salahuddin's head to make sure that he was dead, the police said. Police have not yet been able to identify them. None of the political or ethnic groups operating in Karachi have claimed responsibility for the murder. Some 3,000 people have died in ethnic and sectarian violence in Karachi during the past three years and many have been killed in attacks similar to Salahuddin's assassination. The shooting follows the withdrawal of army troops from Karachi's streets earlier this week after 29 months as Bhutto said her government was confident enough to handle Karachi with local police. An average of five to 10 people have been killed everyday since the army was withdrawn on wednesday. Two of those killed in this week were guards of the chief minister's house and two were the guards of a federal minister. Bhutto, while expressing 'a deep sense of grief and sorrow over Salahuddin's assassination,' said, 'no society can accept such a situation.'

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She directed the provincial administration to 'catch the culprits immediately and award them exemplary punishment.' Bhutto said the editor 'based his journalism on principles' and was also 'respected by those who disagreed with his ideas.' Salahuddin opposed Bhutto's Peoples Party. However, it were ethnic groups like the Mohajir Qaumi movement that he disliked the most and always wrote against. 'Salahuddin served the profession of journalism with integrity and dedication and his murderers should not go unpunished,' said Bhutto.

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