KARACHI, July 3: Random and targeted armed attacks on Tuesday claimed the lives of four more people, including a policeman and two senior Pakistan People’s Party workers, mostly in the city’s district west as peace remains a distant dream for Karachiites amid unrelenting violence, said officials and party sources.
While police investigators in each case believed that the victim’s political and professional association cost them their lives, the deadly attacks sparked fear in densely-populated neighbourhoods where daily life came to a complete standstill with closure of shops and public transport remaining off the road.
Among the few volatile areas, Orangi Town again emerged as a hotspot where two people, including a senior PPP worker, were killed in a morning attack followed by firing incidents in the area.
Armed men riding a motorbike pulled up at a bakery in Sector 14 near Disco Morr and opened fire on the PPP worker, who had come there to buy breakfast, and the salesman. The attackers fled, leaving the two people dead.
“The deceased were later identified as 37-year-old Shaheen Ahmad aka Shaheen Bihari and 55-year-old Mohammad Haroon,” said an official at the Pakistan Bazaar police station.
He said it seemed that PPP worker Shaheen was the real target of attackers and bakery worker Haroon fell prey to intense firing.
The killings followed by random gunfire sparked panic and fear in the commercial area, as traders pulled down shutters and traffic on roads gradually turned thin. Sector 10, 11, 11 ½, 13, 14 and 16 wore a deserted look. While passing through the area, an auto-rickshaw driver sustained gunshot wounds in Sector 14-A near Fauji Hotel.
“He most probably came under fire that triggered after PPP worker’s killing,” said the official, adding that he was admitted to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital where his condition was said to be critical. The victim remains unidentified.
As the PPP leaders and workers were gathering outside Shaheen Ahmad’s home to offer their condolences, another senior party worker was killed in a targeted attack in the neighbouring Site Town.
“Armed men attacked 39-year-old Shakil Awan minutes after he left home in Qaimkhani Colony in Baldia Town,” said an official at the Mochko police station. “He sustained three gunshot wounds and died on the spot. He was a resident of the same area and most probably going to Orangi Town to offer condolences on fellow worker’s killing.”
A large number of PPP activists then gathered in Orangi and Baldia towns, chanting slogans against ‘frequent’ killings of party workers.
Father of five, Mr Awan was district west PPP youth wing president and Shaheen Ahmad was active party worker of Orangi Town’s PS-94 constituency under the PPP’s organisational structure. He was married and father of three.Rana Gulzar Taj, an area leader of the PPP who escaped an attack on his life in April, described the fresh incidents as “part of a conspiracy against the party to weaken its roots in one of its strongholds”.
“At a time when the PPP leadership both at the province and national level is making efforts to establish peace in Karachi, miscreants are targeting PPP workers just to provoke the ruling party and exploit the volatile situation,” he said.
A young man was shot dead in Muscati Muhallah of Orangi Town on Tuesday evening, police said.
They said that armed riders targeted 22-year-old Aman Baloch in the Faqeer Colony area within the remit of the Mominabad police station.
“The victim was a resident of Orangi Town and had come here to see a friend. The motive for murder is not yet clear,” said an official at the Mominabad police station.
In another armed attack said to be linked with the recent killings of policemen, a head constable was gunned down in Nazimabad No 2.
Officials said 45-year-old Gulzar Ahmad Alvi was going to a bus stop to get a bus to his workplace as a matter of his routine when he was targeted.
“Two men riding a motorbike fired at him and sped away,” said DSP Shahid Abbas, the area’s sub-divisional police officer.
“The victim was posted in the security zone of the city police and going to his office situated near Hasan Square,” he said.
The officer added that head constable Alvi was a resident of a Gulbahar locality. He said the killing could be linked to his being a policeman.
Fifty personnel and officers of the Sindh police are reported to have lost their lives during the first six months of the current year.