KARACHI, Dec 25: Violence erupted in different parts of the city on Tuesday after an attack on a central leader of the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat and the killing of four men associated with the group believed to be a reincarnation of the banned militant outfit of Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan.
Maulana Aurangzeb Farooqui, the central leader of ASWJ, sustained a gunshot wound in the thigh in the attack on his motorcade in Gulshan-i-Iqbal that left four policemen, a private guard and a driver dead.
While the ASWJ called for a day of mourning, transporters’ organisations in the city announced that they would keep their vehicles off the road on Wednesday.
“The double cabin [pickup truck] in which Maulana Farooqui was travelling was being escorted by a police van and a private vehicle with private gunmen,” said DIG (east) Shahid Hayat.
The Maulana was heading from NIPA towards Sohrab Goth — the route he often took to reach home — when they came under attack on Rashid Minhas Road in front of Gulshan-i-Iqbal Block 1, Moti Mahal, the senior police officer said.
In the attack, the police said, four policemen were killed, while the pickup truck’s driver lost control over the steering after being hit by a bullet with the result that the vehicle ran over the traffic island. The Maulana survived the attack with a gunshot in the thigh, but his private guard was killed in the ambush, the officials said.
The police investigators said there were conflicting witness accounts about the number of attackers. They added that the attackers used 9mm pistols, an AK-47 and a .222 rifle. The police seized several dozens of spent bullet casings from the crime-scene, a senior police officer said.
DIG Hayat said evidence indicated that at least three armed men took part in the attack. “But definitely they must have been backed by their accomplices,” the officer said.
The wounded were rushed to the Liaquat National Hospital where most of them died during treatment.
As soon as the news of the attack on the ASWJ leader spread, violent protests broke out outside the hospital as protesters hurled stones at vehicles on Stadium Road and set fire to tyres.
Shortly afterwards violence spread to other parts of the city including Gulistan-i-Jauhar, Nazimabad, Ayesha Manzil, Baloch Colony and Qayumabad. Armed men fired into the air.
A mob set a minibus on fire near Ayesha Manzil. Protesters also hurled stones at vehicles and placed burning tyres on roads, suspending traffic in different parts of the city.
A violent protest was witnessed on Sharea Faisal where the traffic flow remained suspended in evening hours.
Police and Rangers personnel rushed to the disturbed areas to control the situation. They also made some arrests.
However, fear and tension gripped many localities as markets, bazaars and some petrol pumps also remained closed.
Meanwhile, Maulana Farooqui spoke to some private television channels from his hospital bed and paid tribute to those killed in the attack.
Calling upon ASWJ workers not to indulge in violence, he said: “The attack was meant to intimidate me from my mission, but I will continue with the cause.”
Two killed in Saddar
Two of the three people who were wounded in firing in Saddar were pronounced dead on arrival at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre while the third victim was admitted for treatment, police said.
The ASWJ claimed that the deceased were their sympathizers.
Rozi Khan, Niamat Khan and another man were wounded in firing near Madni mosque on Preedy Street on Tuesday night, said a duty officer of the Brigade police station.
In Orangi Town, three people were gunned down apparently in two sectarian attacks and a young man was shot dead on political grounds, police said.
Two of the deceased were associated with ASWJ, while the third victim belonged to the Shia sect, the police added.Mohammad Hafeez and Ghulam Haider were passing through Sector 12-½ of Orangi Town on a motorbike when they were shot at and wounded, said an official of the Orangi Town police station.
They were rushed to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital where Mr Haider was pronounced dead on arrival while Mr Hafeez died during treatment, the official said.
“Both men were associated with the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat,” said SP Nasir Aftab.
Shortly afterwards, a young man belonging to the Shia sect was targeted in the Rais Amrohvi Colony in what police suspected was a reprisal attack.
The victim, Syed Shahid Hussain, a vegetable vendor, was shot dead within the remit of the Iqbal Market police station, the SP said.
MQM man shot dead
A young man said to be associated with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement was killed in the same vicinity, the officer said.
Mohammad Nadeem was working at a motorcycle repair shop when he was targeted, SP Aftab said.
He was taken to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Following the killings, tension gripped parts of the Orangi Town where shops and markets were closed.
A young man, who had come along with his five accomplices riding three motorbikes apparently to carry out an attack on an Imambargah in New Karachi, was killed after being hit by a bullet fired by his accomplice, police said.
The suspects fired at Imambargah Shah-i-Kazmain in Sector 11-G when one of them was hit, said New Karachi SP.
“As he fell from the motorbike, his accomplices sped away,” he said, adding that he was rushed to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital where he died.
The suspect was later identified as Zainul Abideen, son of Mohammad Siddique, a resident of Sector 11-G, the SP said.
Clash leaves one dead
A young man was killed and his brother was wounded in a clash in Shah Faisal Colony on Tuesday, police said.