Karachi: Shootout at Sohrab Goth
KARACHI: Two policemen were killed and eleven others were injured in the early hours of Thursday when suspected terrorists involved in the kidnapping of Hashmatullah, an Iranian commercial attaché, attacked them. Around 35 suspected people including four militants belonging to Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and different banned religious outfits, including Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LJ) have been arrested, Daily Times has learnt through reliable sources. The encounter occurred near Yaadgar Hotel situated at Mohmand Centre, in the Sohrab Goth area after 4:00 am. Sources said that officials and personnel of the ISI and Anti–Violent Crime Unit (AVCU) arrived on the scene to investigate the kidnapping of the Iranian commercial attaché.
AVCU chief SSP Farooq Awan and ISI Assistant Director Major Asad were leading the team. Awan and Asad along with ISI personnel including Sub–Inspector (SI) Tariq, Assistant Sub–Inspector (ASI) Afzal and ASI Mazhar were in a private car. They had ordered the police party accompanying them to stay near Al–Saba Masjid located close to the hotel so they could investigate without tipping off the kidnappers about their raid.
The miscreants spotted the police officers at the hotel and opened indiscriminate fire on their car.
As a result, all officers in the car except Asad sustained bullet wounds. The police party waiting behind them arrived at the scene after hearing gunshots and the militants opened fire on them as well.
As a result, ASI Ajmair, ASI Farooq Khattak, Head Constable (HC) Rashid Khan, HC Mumtaz, HC Munir Akhtar, Police Constable (PC) Sarwar, PC Wasir Iqbal and PC Fayyaz sustained bullet wounds. The injured were taken to the Aga Khan Hospital but HC Munir Akhtar and PC Fayyaz succumbed to their injuries on the way. Following the incident, a heavy contingent of law enforcers arrived at the scene including Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Karachi Wasim Ahmed, West Zone DIG Sardar Abdul Majeed Dasti, Crime Investigation Department (CID) SSP Fayyaz Khan, CID SSP Choudhry Mohammad Aslam Khan, SSP Lyari Raja Umer Khattab, West Zone Investigation SSP Khurram Waris and Brig Faqahur Rehman of the Rangers.
Over 100 mobiles units of the police and Rangers including Armoured Personnel Carriers cordoned off the area and started a door-to-door search. Around 35 suspected persons were taken into custody during the operation and shifted to an unknown place for further investigation.
The sources said that at least four out of the 35 suspected persons were terrorists affiliated with TTP, LJ and other banned religious organisations.
Automatic weapons in large quantity and the chemicals were also recovered where the terrorists were hiding.
However, families and residents of the area have claimed that the people arrested during the operation after the incident were innocent. Most of them are labourers, mechanics and helpers.
It is pertinent to mention here that Hashmatullah was kidnapped on November 13, 2008 in Peshawar. On January 6, kidnappers contacted the Iranian Embassy by telephone from an undisclosed place at Nazimabad No 4 and demanded Rs 50 million for his release. Although their location had been traced, owing to the inefficiency of the authorities concerned, the culprits managed to escape. “We have been trying to trace the people involved in the kidnapping for many days now,” said an official under the condition of anonymity. “Earlier, we had also conducted raids in different parts of the city including Peerabad, SITE, Quaidabad and Korangi but were unable to apprehend them.”
The officer further said that the ISI had received a tip-off regarding the presence of the kidnappers and an operation was planned to capture them.
However, another officer told Daily Times that he was critical of the manner the operation was conducted in. “They did an irresponsible job,” the officer said, adding that the raiding party should have gone properly prepared and equipped.
CCPO Waseem Ahmed said that AVCU and law enforcement agencies jointly conducted the raid near Asif Square on a tip off that suspects were hiding there. Sindh IGP Babar Khattak told reporters, “We had a tip-off that a terrorist group was planning major terror activities in the city, and was hiding in Sohrab Goth and Orangi Town”. Some important arrests have been made, he added.
The IGP announced Rs 2 million each for the families of the deceased policemen and Rs 0.1 million each for the injured. He further announced jobs for one person from each of the deceased’s families. Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah has also announced Rs 1 million each for the families of the deceased and Rs 0.2 million for SSP Awan.