4 policemen among 21 dead in Karachi
KARACHI: Four policemen were killed and more than 25 others injured in a late night ambush on their bus in Korangi, one of several strife-hit areas, on Friday.
The third day of the fresh wave of violence saw 21 more deaths in the city, increasing demands for the army’s intervention from the top business bodies of the country’s commercial capital.
The deadliest episode of the day occurred in Korangi’s Chakra Goth area where armed groups fought a gunbattle after sunset.
An additional police force was called in to handle the situation. The private bus hired by police came under a volley of gunfire by armed men riding 10 motorcycles near Korangi 2½.
The bus was carrying 40 policemen, all in plain clothes. “We have reports of four policemen dead in the incident and some 20 injured,” said SP Haseeb Baig.
An official at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) said the hospital received total 29 injured, four of them were critical.
Phone calls to television channels from Federal B. Area and North Karachi around midnight spoke of the hijacking of a minibus.
The gunmen told the women and children to get off the bus and sped away with men. However, there was no confirmation of the incident from area police.
Earlier in different incidents, 18 people were either killed in armed attacks or their bullet-riddled bodies were found in different parts of the city.
In the second half of the day families of the four victims whose bullet-riddled and gunny bags-stuffed bodies were found, took to the streets and staged a sit-in outside the Chief Minister’s House and the Karachi Press Club.
Although the authorities once again promised measures against terrorists, their resolve did not translate into action.
The fighting talk even failed to reassure traders and industrialists, who in an unusual move, unanimously called for the army’s intervention.
“Given the grave circumstances where civil law-enforcement agencies have failed in restoring peace in Karachi, which has now become a hub of bloodshed, the Army must be called in as it is, last resort to enforce peace in the city,” said Khalid Tawab, the president of Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce (FPCC).
The call was echoed by Saeed Shafique and Siddiq Memon of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), the chairman of Karachi Traders Action Committee (KTAC), a platform for more than 300 retail and wholesale markets.
While terrorists went about their killing rampage in the metropolis, Interior Minister Rahman Malik on Friday again hinted at the possibility of involvement of foreign elements in fomenting the trouble.
Talking to reporters after presiding over a meeting on law and order at the Crisis Management Cell here, he claimed there had been no targeted killing between midnight and Friday prayers and police had apprehended 52 culprits.
In all, police and Rangers personnel had apprehended 100 suspects and all of them would be presented before the media within 48 hours, he said, adding that they would themselves speak about the mastermind behind the bloodshed.
He said the terrorists were trying to give a sectarian or ethnic spin to their gruesome acts to destabilise the city.
The minister sought to play down the enormity of the ‘random killings’. He said two police stations were being activated in SITE area on the demand of industrialists and youths for combating street crime.
A special force was being created for this purpose, Mr Malik added. He said land mafia had been “eliminated from the city on the directives of President Asif Ali Zardari” and strict action was being taken against extortionists.