U.S. Consulate employee killed by gunmen in Pakistan, officials say

February 10

A Pakistani employee of the U.S. Consulate in Peshawar was shot and killed Monday while traveling home from work, the latest in a string of targeted assassinations in that area, local officials said.

Najeeb Khan, a local police official, said the consulate employee was walking home in the capital of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province when gunmen opened fire on him as he approached his house. The man, identified as Faisal Saeed, was killed and the gunmen fled, Khan said.

Khan and hospital officials said Saeed was an employee of the U.S. Consulate. Reached by phone, a friend said that Saeed, 30, worked as a computer programmer at the consulate and was active in updating its Facebook page.

The friend, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of safety concerns, said Saeed “was talking on his phone outside of his house when two armed men shot him and fled.”

“They did not take his belongings and his mobile,” the friend said.

The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad confirmed the incident.

“Local authorities are investigating a tragic incident that has affected a Pakistani national U.S. consulate Peshawar employee,” the embassy said in a statement. “We strongly condemn this brutal and senseless death and express our heartfelt condolences to the family.”

The United States maintains consulates in the Pakistani cities of Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar, in addition to its embassy in Islamabad. But because of specific threats over the summer, the consulate in Lahore, in eastern Pakistan, was closed to the public in August. It remains closed for consular services.

Security also has been an ongoing concern for consulate staff in Peshawar. In September 2012, two American employees of the consulate were wounded when a suicide bomber struck a convoy in which they were traveling. In 2010, two Pakistani employees were among eight people killed in a terrorist attack near the consulate.

But Pakistani officials refused to speculate whether Saeed was targeted because of his affiliation with the U.S. government. There has also been a spate of targeted assassinations in Peshawar in recent months as Sunni militants attack Shiite professionals.

Meanwhile on Monday, four women were killed when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives during a funeral procession in Peshawar, police said. In Peshawar’s Hangu district, three teachers were also gunned down in the morning, according to Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper.

There was no immediate assertion of responsibility for any of the attacks.

Last week, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government began preliminary peace talks with Taliban insurgents to try to curb years of bloodshed. In the coming days, a three-member delegation representing the Taliban is expected to release its demands for reaching a negotiated peace settlement.

In recent days, various Taliban officials and news reports have indicated that the demands would include imposing Islamic law in Pakistan, releasing all Taliban prisoners, providing compensation for the victims of U.S. drone strikes and cutting off ties with the United States. But other Taliban officials have stressed that no final decision has been made on the group’s demands.

While the talks proceed, a senior Taliban spokesman said Monday, the militant group has agreed to curtail its attacks. But a group that had been affiliated with the Pakistani Taliban, Ahar-ul-Hind, issued a statement saying it was breaking ties with the Taliban due to the peace process.

“Sharia cannot be implemented through dialogue,” said Asad Mansoor, a spokesman for Ahar-ul-Hind.

Craig reported from Kabul. Aamir Iqbal in Islamabad contributed to this report.

Tim Craig is The Post’s bureau chief in Pakistan. He has also covered conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and within the District of Columbia government.
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