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Popular female Pakistani singer killed in drive-by shooting

From Reza Sayah, CNN
updated 8:54 AM EDT, Tue June 19, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Ghazala Javed recorded scores of songs in her native Pashto language
  • She became a household name among young, progressive ethnic Pashtuns
  • She had just left a beauty salon and was headed home with her father
  • Gunmen on a motorcycle sprayed their car with bullets and both were killed, police said

(CNN) -- A popular female Pakistani singer who defied the Taliban's decree against singing and dancing was shot and killed in northwest Pakistan Monday night, police and hospital officials told CNN.

Authorities described the singer's ex-husband as a suspect in the case, and said early indications were that the Taliban were not involved, according to police official Imtiaz Altaf.

Ghazala Javed, who recorded scores of songs in her native Pashto language and became a household name among young, progressive ethnic Pashtuns in northwest Pakistan, had just left a beauty salon and was driving home with her father when gunmen on a motorcycle raced towards their car and sprayed it with bullets, Altaf said.

Javed was hit with six bullets and pronounced dead at a hospital in Peshawar, the capital of Pakistan's Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, according to hospital official Rahim Afridi. Javed's father also was killed, police said.

Reports: Pakistanis murdered for dancing

In recent years the rise of the Pakistani Taliban in the region and the group's ban against singing and dancing made it difficult for Javed and other musical artists to perform and record songs in Pakistan. Javed recorded and taped many of her latest songs and music videos in nearby Dubai.

Last year Javed made headlines when she asked for a divorce from her husband after she reportedly found out that he had at least one other wife. It was a rare decision in a deeply conservative and male-dominated society where many view a woman's demand for a divorce as a dishonor to the husband.

Shortly after Monday night's shooting police released a statement saying Javed's sister had accused her ex-husband and two of his acquaintances

Investigators said a search was underway for the three men.

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Journalist Aamir Iqbal contributed to this report.

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