Ismail, Islamabad bureau chief for Pakistan Press International, was found near his home in Islamabad with his head "smashed with some hard blunt object," according to Mazhar Abbas, then secretary-general of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists. The Associated Press reported that a police investigator said an iron bar might have been used as a weapon.
Ismail was last seen the previous night as he was leaving his house to take a walk. Doctors who received the body when it was taken to a local hospital told the journalists union that Ismail had been dead for a few hours before being discovered.
Ismail's family told Abbas that they were at a loss as to what could have prompted the attack. They told him Ismail, who was nearing retirement, was carrying little of value when he was assaulted. Ismail's news agency was not known for particularly critical reporting of the government, CPJ research shows.