KARACHI: Unknown assailants carried out a bomb attack on a senior police officer in Karachi's upscale Defence Housing Authority (DHA) neighbourhood on Thursday night, killing two people and injuring at least seven others, DawnNews reported.
The attack targeted a convoy of SSP South Farooq Awan in DHA Phase 4. The blast was heard far and wide and a large plume of smoke was visible as well.
The blast caused a suspension of electricity supply in the vicinity. The vehicle of the senior police officer was completely destroyed in the attack, whereas another police mobile van escorting him was also badly damaged.
"Police has cordoned off the area and is collecting evidence from the blast site," said IG Sindh Ghulam Haider Jamali. He said that the attack, in which two people were killed and six others injured, did not appear to have been carried out by a suicide bomber.
The IG added that the bomb appeared to have been planted in a Suzuki pickup van which was remotely detonated.
Sections of the local media reported that banned militant group Jundallah claimed the attack on Awan. The claim could not yet be confirmed.
Moreover, the CID police’s counter-terror unit chief, Raja Umer Khattab, said he believed that Jundallah might be involved in the attack.
He had said earlier the murder of Ali Akbar Kumaili, son of prominent Shia scholar and former Senator Allama Abbas Kumaili and a grenade attack on 15-Madadgar police at Nursery on Sharae Faisal in Karachi were also reportedly claimed by Jundullah.
Khattab, who had worked on high-profile terror cases, said Jundallah had been ‘reactivated’ after a gap of about one-and-a-half years in the city.
Seemi Jamali, the spokesperson at Karachi's Jinnah Post Graduate Medical Centre, confirmed to AFP that two people died in the attack. She added two women were among the injured.
Speaking to the media, Additional IG Sindh Ghulam Qadir Thebo said that the attacker was apparently either riding a motorcycle or on foot. SSP Farooq Awan also suffered minor wounds in the attack and was shifted to a private hospital.
DIG Karachi Police Abdul Khaliq, however, said that the bomb was planted in a small car which exploded as the convoy of SSP Awan passed by it. He said that one person was killed and six others including two policemen injured in the attack.
This is not the first attack on Police and Rangers personnel and officers in the Sindh capital as many have lost lives in fight against militancy, targeted killing and sectarian violence in the past as well. Grenades have been lobbed at police stations and vehicles.
Some police officials are comparing tonight's attack to that killed SP Chaudhry Aslam earlier this year. Aslam along with his two colleagues was killed in a Taliban bombing in January.
In February, the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) had claimed responsibility for an explosion targeting a police bus near Razzaqabad police training college in Karachi's Shah Latif Town in which 13 policemen were killed and 47 others injured.
But, the Pakistani Taliban are not the only driver of the violence in the city.
Karachi has been a cauldron of ethnic and political tension for decades, where political parties have militant wings, gangs make money through drug-trafficking, land grabbing and other forms of crime, and sectarian violence.
Targeted operations by Police and Rangers’ forces are ongoing in the city under a directive issued by the federal government against criminals already identified by federal, military and civilian agencies.
Pakistan also faces Taliban insurgents and militants who have killed thousands of civilians and security personnel since they began their fight against the government in 2007.
In a bid to eliminate Taliban militancy from the country and to wipe out militant strongholds in North Waziristan tribal agency bordering Afghanistan, Pakistani military had launched operation Zarb-i-Azb in mid June. Pakistan Army claims that hundreds of high profile TTP commanders and fighters have been killed in the operation ever since.
Career of SSP Farooq Awan
SSP Awan has spent most of his career in anti-terrorism activities. He has been awarded with various awards for bravery and gallantry during his career.
Some significant cases that the policeman has worked on include the Sheraton bombing of French Navy personnel in Karachi, Daniel Pearl murder case, Riaz Lalji kidnapping, attack on Iranian Engineers, attack on Saudi consulate and on other sectarian natured criminal activities.
He was also the Station House Officer of Karachi’s Clifton Police Station when Mir Murtaza Bhutto was killed in the police station’s jurisdiction in 1996.
The officer is credited with being the first police officer to begin the fight against terrorists in 2002, when French engineers were killed at a blast at Sheraton hotel in Karachi and also breaking the backbone of groups such as the Harkatul Mujahideen al Almi and others.
Recently, he was investigating the killing of Karachi University's dean of the faculty of Islamic Studies, Prof Dr Muhammad Shakeel Auj.
Former president Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf had decorated him with the Sitara-i-Shujaat in 2002 and Sitara-i-Imtiaz in 2003. He also received the Hilal-i-Shujaat from former president Asif Ali Zardari in 2011.
He has served as DSP anti-terror wing of the Crime Investigation Department (CID), as an SSP with the Anti-Violent Crime Cell (AVCC), Investigation East, Crime Branch and Special Investigation Unit (SIU) of the Crime Investigation Agency (CIA).
His name was also included in the six police officers who were in the TTP hit-list. He is also said to have narrowly missed a militant attack on him in 2005.
In January 2009, the police officer had once also been held hostage by aides of then Tehreek-i-Taliban (TTP) chief Baitullah Mehsud and also suffered injuries in a resultant clash with the militants near Al-Asif Square in Karachi’s Sohrab Goth area.
He was also among 71 police officers who were demoted in 2013 on the orders of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. The apex court had withdrawn all out-of-turn promotions — known as shoulder promotions in bureaucratic parlance — which were handed out in the decade prior to the instructions.