KARACHI, Pakistan — Gunmen on a motorcycle killed a prominent women’s rights activist in Pakistan just hours after she held a forum on the country’s restive Baluchistan region, home to a long-running insurgency, police said Saturday.

While investigators declined to speculate on a motive for the killing of Sabeen Mahmud, friends and colleagues immediately described her death as a targeted assassination in Pakistan, a country with a nascent democracy where the military and intelligence services still hold tremendous sway.

The gunmen shot both Mahmud and her mother, Mehnaz Mahmud, as they stopped at a traffic light Friday night in an upscale Karachi neighborhood, police officer Zafar Iqbal said.

“Two men riding a motorcycle opened fire on the car,” Iqbal said. Mahmud “died on her way to the hospital. Her mother was also wounded,” he said.

Iqbal and other police officials declined to speculate on a motive for the slaying. However, earlier that night, Mahmud hosted an event at her organization called The Second Floor to discuss human rights in Baluchistan, an impoverished but resource-rich southwestern province bordering Iran.

Thousands of people have disappeared from Baluchistan province in recent years amid a government crackdown on nationalists and insurgent groups there. Activists blame the government and intelligence agencies for the disappearances, something authorities deny.

Qadeer Baluch, an activist who last year led a nearly 1,900-mile protest march across Pakistan to demand justice for the missing in Baluchistan, attended Mahmud’s event Friday night. Baluch hinted that the government could be involved in Mahmud’s slaying.

“Everybody knows who killed her and why,” Baluch told Pakistan’s The Nation newspaper, without elaborating.

In a statement Saturday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned Mahmud’s killing and ordered an investigation. The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad also condemned Mahmud’s slaying and offered condolences.

Mahmud was “a courageous voice of the Pakistani people and her death represents a great loss,” it said.

Mahmud, who also ran a small tech company, continued to live in Karachi, Pakistan’s southern port city, even while acknowledging the danger from insurgent groups and criminals operating there.

“Fear is just a line in your head,” Mahmud told Wired magazine in 2013. “You can choose what side of that line you want to be on.”