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7 October 2005 -- Police say at least six people were killed and 20 wounded in a drive-by shooting on a religious center of a dissident Islamic sect in central Pakistan today.

Police say the attack took place near the town of Mandi Bahauddin in the central province of Punjab when the men belonging to the Ahmadi sect were gathered for dawn prayers. Mandi Bahauddin is about 160 kilometers south of the capital, Islamabad.

Local police chief Waqar Haider said masked, armed men on three motorcycles opened fire on the worshippers with automatic weapons.

The Ahmadiyya sect was founded in 1889 by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, an Indian religious leader who claimed to be a prophet seeking Islam's renewal. The religious group differs with other mainstream Muslim groups over the definition of Islam's founder Mohammad being the "final" prophet.

Ahmadiyas have been persecuted and ostracized in many countries, including Pakistan, where a law passed in the 1970s forbids them from calling themselves Muslim.

(Reuters/AFP/AP)

See RFE/RL's special section Religion And Tolerance.
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