KARACHI: While Rangers and police continued targeted operations in Karachi, including Lyari, a key figure of the outlawed Peoples Amn Committee Zafar Baloch was shot dead Wednesday by unknown assailants on motorcycles in Lyari.
Tension and fear gripped the city’s south district, particularly Lyari and its adjoining areas, following the killing of Baloch. Law-enforcement agencies claimed to have adopted strict security measures to prevent any reaction to the violent incident in which a guard of the slain leader was also killed.
Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, also the provincial president of the PPP, condemned the killing in a statement which did not describe Zafar Baloch as a PPP man. Moreover, Provincial Information Minister Sharjeel Inaam Memon also condemned the killing.
Late on Wednesday night, police placed containers and barricades to block the road leading to the Chief Minister’s House in view of a possible protest by supporters of Zafar Baloch.
Police said that Zafar Baloch, 46, and his guard Muhammad Ali were targeted by assailants when he was returning from the Lyari General Hospital where bodies of three suspected gangsters killed in a shootout with Rangers were shifted.
When his vehicle reached near Bizenjo Chowk, several gunmen riding motorcycles opened fire at it. Zafar Baloch and his guard suffered multiple bullet wounds. They were taken to a private hospital where doctors declared them dead. Later, the body of the slain Mr Baloch was shifted to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre for a post-mortem examination.
DIG-South Abdul Khaliq Sheikh suspected that a rival group of the PAC might have targeted Zafar Baloch. “There are different groups operating in the area and initially our doubts go to one of the rival groups.”
He said that arrangements had been made to handle the reaction of the killing.
Heavy deployment of law-enforcement agencies had been made in the vulnerable areas with main focus on strife-hit localities where Kutchhi and Baloch communities were living, he added.
Baloch had survived at least two attempts on his life in the past.
He remained a local PPP leader but joined the PAC when it was formed in 2008. Later he became general secretary of district south chapter of the PPP, but resigned soon after developing differences with the party’s lawmakers.
He was the number two in the PAC, now called the Lyari Amn Committee, after its chief Uzair Jan Baloch.
In the aftermath of the shooting fear and panic spread in the area. Shops were shutdown while aerial firing was reported at sporadic instances.
The chief minister termed the murder a ‘conspiracy to disturb law and order situation in the city’ and directed the Sindh police chief to immediately arrest the killers.
A spokesman for the Bilawal House said the killing of Zafar Baloch was a message for every patriotic political worker in Karachi.
In an obvious reference to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, he said that the PPP was waiting for the reaction of those who frequently gave calls for strike in the city.
Javed Nagori, provincial minister and PPP lawmaker from Lyari, also saw the killing as a conspiracy to destroy peace in the city and urged party workers to remain united.