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Official slain in Pakistan

February 21, 2007|From the Associated Press

LAHORE, PAKISTAN — A gunman shot and killed a provincial Cabinet minister in eastern Pakistan on Tuesday as she prepared to address a gathering of workers from her political party, officials said.

Zil-e-Huma Usman was minister of social welfare in Punjab province and a senior figure in the Pakistan Muslim League party, which governs Punjab and supports President Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

As Usman left her car and walked toward the podium in Gujranwala, 120 miles southeast of the capital, Islamabad, the attacker fired a single shot into her head at close range, Police Chief Abdul Qadir Qayyum said.

Another local police official, Mohammed Nazir, identified the man as Mohammed Sarwar.

Qayyum said Sarwar confessed to the killing and had told investigators that women should not hold important positions. The suspect also said that "since fashionable women spread obscenity in the society, he has been targeting them ... to purge the society of evil," Qayyum said.

Zobaida Jalal, the federal minister of social welfare, condemned the slaying, calling it an "unbearable loss to the cause of women's rights."

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