KARACHI: With helicopters hovering overhead, some 2,000 Rangers personnel, including women members, in vehicles guarded by armoured personnel carriers moved into the Manghopir and Sultanabad localities for a pre-dawn ‘targeted-operation’ on Saturday.
Officials claimed the operation was a ‘major success’ that led to the seizure of a crude bomb-making factory, huge caches of arms and explosives with stocks of bearing balls and deadly chemicals as had been used in bomb attacks during Muharram.
The more than four-hour-long operation triggered a brief protest from area residents, who accused the paramilitary troops of violating the privacy of their family lives.
“It was planned on specific information to arrest some wanted terrorists,” said a spokesman for the Sindh Rangers. “The targeted operation started early in the morning in the Manghopir and Sultanabad areas, which was attended by the 2,000 troops along with APCs (armoured personnel carriers).”
Saturday’s operation was the second consecutive exercise by the Rangers in as many days.
On Friday, the troops cordoned off the neighouring Kunwari Colony in the same district and rounded up several suspects after hours-long search of the densely-populated locality.
“Today (Saturday) a difficult and hilly area was targeted. It was a well-planned operation with aerial cover for monitoring of the operation. Today a major success has been made,” said the spokesman.
Manghpoir has emerged as a hotbed of suspects associated with the banned outfits in recent months and the recent raids by the police and Rangers that resulted in deadly encounters and arrest of alleged militants reflected the alarming influx of criminal elements into the locality.
Only on the eve of Ashura last week, the anti-extremist cell of the Sindh police’s crime investigation department claimed to have arrested a suspected militant, Ataullah alias Saddam, in an encounter that killed his aide Gul Muhammad Mehsud and led to the recovery of more than 100 kilograms of explosive stated to be meant for use in an attack on the main Ahsura procession on M. A. Jinnah Road.As claimed by the Sindh Rangers spokesman, the seizure after the paramilitary operation suggested well-organised presence of suspected militants in the suburb of the metropolis.
“During the operation an IED making facility has been found,” he said. “Important recoveries include substantial amount of ball bearings, motorcycle batteries, aluminum powder, aluminum nitrate, nitric acid concentrated, circuits without detonators, mobile phones without SIMs and approximately 70 weapons of different caliber with ammunition.”
Though the number of suspects arrested was not explained by the Rangers, the spokesman hinted that the operation helped in pursuing investigations in line with recent terrorist attacks in Karachi.
“Leads have been found with recent IED explosions in Karachi. This success will lead to operations in other areas as well,” he said. After the Rangers personnel returned with the ‘major success’, area people took to the streets and blocked the main road in protest against the operation.
Traffic remained suspended in the area that was revived only after talks between some area leaders and senior police officers.
However, the Sindh Rangers spokesman thanked the Manghopir and Sultanabad residents for their support during the operation.
“Sindh Rangers thank the inhabitants of Sultanabad and Manghopir for their support during the operation. We regret any inconvenience caused due to the prolonged operation,” he added.