KARACHI, Nov 10: Peace remained a distant dream for Karachiites as an armed attack on seminary students in Gulshan-i-Iqbal  and an ambush on an activist of a proscribed religious party in North Nazimabad left at least six people dead on Saturday in what police said as part of the ‘ongoing tit-for-tat killings on sectarian grounds’.

The deadly incidents followed the hours-long tension mainly in districts central and west, where two vehicles were set on fire during the funeral procession of the Imamia Students Organisation adviser who was killed on Friday in Karimabad.

The level of threat authorities warned remained high ahead of Muharram, beginning next week, but they had failed to cap the brutal trend terrorising Karachiites for the past more than two months.

The fear stayed in most parts of districts central and west, where multiple killings have been witnessed in the recent spate of violence.

Nearly half a dozen riders on three motorbikes targeted young students of Ahsan-ul-Uloom, a known seminary of in Gulshan-i-Iqbal Block 2.

“The victims are seminary students, who were sitting at a roadside teashop after Maghrib prayers as a matter of their daily routine,” DIG-East Shahid Hayat told Dawn. “The teashop is close to Ahsan-ul-Uloom, with which the victim students were enrolled. The firing left five of them dead and three injured. The area police were collecting more information that would establish the identity of the victims.”

An official at the Gulshan-i-Iqbal police station said the attackers riding three motorbikes used 9mm and 30-bore pistols. The firing was so intense that it caused panic in the locality, which becomes quite busy after sunset with people thronging the food outlets there.

“The victims were mostly hit in the chest and head. The dead and the injured have been shifted to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre,” said the official. “They all were in their early 20s and sitting at the restaurant as they always did after Maghrib prayers. Three of the dead have been identified as Iqbal, Aslam and Tahir. The injured and the other two dead remained unidentified.”

Life came to a complete halt in Block 2 of Gulshan-i-Iqbal and its neighbouring localities. A heavy contingent of police backed by Rangers cordoned off the crime scene, where blood stains were visible showing the intensity of the horrific episode.

“On the face of it, there is no other reason than tit-for-tat killings on sectarian grounds,” said DIG-East Shahid Hayat, when asked about suspects behind the fresh killings. “Unless another aspect is proved, we believe there is a sectarianism motive behind the recent killings carried out in different parts of Karachi.”

Within and hour, gunmen in North Nazimabad targeted the Ahl-i-Sunnat Wal Jamaat’s senior activist while he was riding home.

The area police said the armed men on a motorbike intercepted 28-year-old Muhammad Irfan near the Landi Kotal roundabout.

“One of the motorcyclists fired shots at him and sped away with his accomplice,” said an official at the Hyderi police station.

“The victim wearing shalwar kameez died on the spot and his body was shifted to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital. He was a resident of North Nazimabad, Block L.”

The police suspected sectarianism behind the incident, which also echoed in the statement of the ASWJ issued after the killing.

“The victim was the information secretary for our North Nazmabad town’s organisational structure. His killing is part of the fresh trend targeting ASWJ workers,” it added.

“There are visible, organised and coordinated efforts behind the recent killings,” said Maulana Taj Hanafi of the ASWJ. “One day we see people from the Shia sect being targeted and the other day we see Sunnis being killed. The administration has failed to recognise the conspiracy behind the brutal trend and arrest the killers. Indiscriminate operations as carried out in Swat and Waziristan are the only option left to restore peace to Karachi.”

Two killed in N. Nazimabad

Armed men struck one of the two districts as minutes before sunset firing by two motorcyclists on two men riding another motorbike left both of them dead.

“The dead have been identified as Tariq Aslam and Azam Kamal,” said the area’s DSP Abdul Rasheed. “They have been identified from the identity cards found in their pockets. A weekly magazine, Roshan Dia, was found in the victims’ possession which also carried the name of Mr Aslam as a senior staff member.”


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