A suicide car bomber killed a prominent Shiite Muslim cleric and one of his relatives in this southern Pakistan city on Friday, police said.

Allama Hassan Turabi had narrowly escaped an attempt on his life in April, and his killing will raise sectarian tensions in Karachi, which has often been the site of clashes between rival Shiite and Sunni Muslims.

Turabi was the leader of a Shiite party, Islamic Tehreek Pakistan. He also was chief of the southern province of Sindh for Mutahida Majlis-e-Amal or United Action Forum, a hard-line opposition religious coalition.

One of Turabi's guards also was seriously hurt in the blast that shook downtown Karachi, said Manzoor Mughal, a senior police investigator. The attacker was also killed, he said.

Turabi died of his injuries at Patel Hospital, Mughal said. Dr. Abdul Rashid at the private hospital confirmed the cleric's death.

One of the cleric's relatives also was killed, according to Turabi's son, Murtaza, who spoke to The Associated Press by telephone.

Pakistan has been beset for years by sectarian attacks of extremist elements among the majority Sunni and minority Shiite sects.