QUETTA: While police and other law enforcement agencies’ investigators are silent about the killing on Tuesday of five Chechen suspects, witnesses say they were unarmed, had not put up any resistance and appeared ready to surrender.
Hospital sources said on Wednesday that the three women and two men had died on the spot of multiple bullet wounds.
All the bodies were found at a picket of the Frontier Corps surrounded by barbed wires.
According to officials who tried to reconstruct the scene, the suspects had gone to the checkpoint for shelter or to surrender when they saw a heavy contingent of law enforcement personnel who had rushed to Killi Khezi after receiving a wireless message from a police post on the Airport Road about the entry into the area of a vehicle carrying suspected foreigners.
According to sources, they had hired the vehicle in Kuchlak, for coming to Quetta with the help of two local people.
They had crossed two police posts, but policemen deployed at the third one told them to accompany them to the police station near the airport.
While on way to the police station, the local men and the driver forcibly offloaded a policeman accompanying them and sped away. After some time, the driver, Ataullah, stopped the vehicle and refused to take them to Quetta.
The Chechens stepped off the vehicle, offered prayers in a mosque in Killi Khezi and asked local people to guide them to an address.
But all of a sudden they found themselves surrounded by police and Frontier Corps personnel.
The frightened Chechens moved to the nearby FC post, apparently to surrender or take refuge.
“They raised their hands as a gesture of surrender but law enforcement personnel opened indiscriminate fire at them,” witness Irfan Khan alleged.
A private TV channel telecast the shooting by security personnel and an injured woman waving her hand and pleading with them to stop firing.
“An investigation is under way on the basis of information being collected from some mobile phones and a diary,” Quetta police chief Daud Junejo told Dawn on Wednesday night.
He insisted that the Chechens were armed and had hurled a grenade at the checkpost.
However, no other official of the security agencies involved in the firing was ready to comment on the incident.
People who witnessed the action of law enforcement personnel expressed doubts about the official claims, saying that no suicide vests, grenades or weapons were found from the bodies.
“I did not see any suicide jacket or bomb strapped to the bodies,” a senior journalist who was at the place when the incident took place told Dawn.
A senior police officer who had searched the bodies also said not even a knife had been found.
“Only five passports were found in their pockets,” he added.
The statements of police and FC officials were contradictory, too.
Police said the Chechens were carrying suicide jackets, while FC officials claimed that they had grenades in their hands.
Another question being raised here is why the suspects were not arrested when they were injured.
“They could have been arrested alive because they were unarmed,” an officer of a law enforcement agency said.
He said the suspects could have provided useful information.
The officer said he believed that security personnel opened fire out of a fear that the suspects might have been wearing suicide vests.
The bodies were lying in the morgue of the Bolan Medical Complex after postmortem.
Sources said the Chechens had not crossed into Pakistan from Afghanistan in the recent past and it appeared that they had come to Kuchlak from North Waziristan.
Their passports had expired two years ago, an official said.
Amanullah Kasi adds: The Balochistan National Party-M, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, both factions of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam and Jamaat-i-Islami have called for an impartial investigation into the incident.Leaders of the parties said there were contradictions in the statements of security forces. They claimed that they had information about the arrival of terrorists intending to carry out suicide attacks, but failed to explain how the suspects had managed to reach Kuchlak, near the provincial capital.
The leaders said all vehicles were searched at the Baleli checkpoint by FC, police and Levies personnel, but the Chechens appeared to have dodged them.
They said that if the security forces’ version of the incident had been correct, the suicide vests would have blown up when police and FC personnel opened fire on the ‘terrorists’.