2 strikes on police in Karachi; 3 cops die, SP survives
KARACHI: “I got several letters sent by unknown militants, the latest of them was received last month, in which they had threatened me with grave consequences if I continue to hunt their terror accomplices,” SP Anwar Khan told AFP. A suicide bomber targeted on Thursday a senior police officer said to be a leading name in the crackdown on militants, killing four passers-by and injuring 17 others in the city’s Malir area.
Earlier in a pre–dawn attack, three policemen were gunned down in PIB Colony. A car carrying the policemen was peppered with bullets by assailants who came on six motorcycles and two cars. A police officer, a head constable and a constable lost their lives in the strike. According to police, SP Anwar Ahmed Khan was going to the District Courts, Malir, in a convoy of five vehicles for a meeting when the suicide bomber blew himself up at the T-junction of Jinnah Avenue and Sharea Faisal in Malir Halt.
At the time of the attack SP Khan was in a black police car. His motorcade included two APCs and two police mobiles. An investigator said apparently the suicide bomber had been told by his handlers to target the APC because the SP usually travelled in an APC. Commonly known as Rao Anwar, SP Khan is among the few surviving officers who had played an active role in the Karachi operation during the 1990s.
The bomber, believed to be in his mid-20s, was apparently waiting at the spot and blew himself up when he saw the APC coming towards him, said a police officer. Three of the dead were identified as Lal Badshah, 50, who was going to a hospital in Malir; Ata Muhammad, 60, a contractor in a garments factory; and Adeel Ismail, 30. The identity of the 60–year–old man could not be ascertained. As some coins were found in his pockets, police surmised that he was a bagger.
Three City Wards and police constable Ayub posted on the SP’s security were among the injured. “I was heading to the district courts for a meeting in connection with the investigation of a case when the blast took place,” SP Anwar said, adding that about a month ago intelligence reports had alerted police to such a possibility.
“Besides me, CID SSP Chaudhry Aslam and some Rangers officials could be the probable target of the attacks,” SP Anwar told a private television channel, quoting from the intelligence reports.
He said he was sure that Tehrik–i-Taliban Pakistan was behind the attack. When asked about the possible connection between the early morning terrorist attack in PIB Colony and the suicide attack on SP Khan, DIG East Tahir Naveed said there was no evidence to prove that the two incidents were interlinked. But he said the SP was an apparent target of the suicide bomber.
Investigators told Dawn that about 4-5kg of explosives laced with ball bearings was used in the blast. There were at least 105 pellet marks on the APC. The investigators also found a dual–SIM phone at the scene. Its IMEI number was deciphered, but the whereabouts of its user was not clear yet, they added.
According to Dr Kaleem Shaikh, senior medico–legal officer in Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, a pair of lower limbs from toes to knees had been brought to the hospital with an assumption that these belonged to the suicide bomber. Two ears and some parts of hairy skin were also brought to the hospital, presumably belonging to the bomber.
The dead and most of the injured suffered pellets and ball bearing wounds, Dr Shaikh said. Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah sought a report from the IG on the blast.
AFP adds: SP Anwar Khan has been at the forefront of a campaign against Islamist militants in Karachi.
“I got several letters sent by unknown militants, the latest of them was received last month, in which they had threatened me with grave consequences if I continue to hunt their terror accomplices,” he told AFP.
“Such attacks will not deter us from our mission to keep our people safe,” he said. Anwar Khan also took part in the raid on a seminary in December last year, which led to the rescue of 53 students, including children as young as seven, chained up in the basement. The children said they had been regularly beaten. The last suicide attack in Karachi killed two policemen in November.