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Shikarpur Imambargah blast may be handiwork of LJ: CID

Updated February 06, 2015

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CID Police Incharge, Raja Umar Khattab.— PPI/file
CID Police Incharge, Raja Umar Khattab.— PPI/file

KARACHI: The Friday bombing of an Imambargah in Shikarpur could be the handiwork of the banned Lashkar-i-Jhangvi rather than Jundullah whose spokesperson had lost no time in claiming responsibility for it, according to initial findings of the police investigation.

“The finding that the LJ was involved in the suicide attack, which claimed the life of over 55 people, was based on three factors,” said Raja Umer Khattab, chief of the counter-terror unit of the crime investigation department, while speaking to Dawn on Thursday.

Firstly, Jundullah had no network in any part of Sindh except Karachi where it remained involved in some terror attacks, said the CID officer who is leading the police investigation team.

Secondly, he said, Jundullah spokesperson Fahad Marvat who claimed the attack responsibility soon after the Shikarpur blast did not enjoy credibility after being found wrong in claiming the responsibility for ‘three to four’ other terror incidents in the past.

Mr Khattab said the spokesperson had also claimed the responsibility for the Nov 2, 2014 attack at Wagah border, but it later emerged that the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan was involved in the border terror act. TTP spokesperson Khalid Khurrasani released the picture of the suicide bomber while claiming its responsibility, the officer said.

Thirdly, he added, the militant outfits found in sectarian attacks in Quetta could be moving to Sindh cities as their new centre of militancy. “The wave of Shia killings may be turning to Sindh cities from Quetta,” said the CID officer.

Shikarpur is near the vast border area of Balochistan that lacks any significant security checks unlike the Hub city on the Sindh-Balochistan border that has better security measures in place, said the CID officer.

Clues to bomber

While the police have yet to make any formal arrest for the Imambargah attack, they claim to have found some clues to the bomber and his possible affiliation.

The CID officer said they had collected three pieces of evidence — DNA samples, fingerprints and pieces of clothes — from the crime scene. DNA samples have been sent to a laboratory in Islamabad, while fingerprints have been given to the National Database and Registration Authority.

The local police with the help of the pieces of clothes detained a tailor who had reportedly stitched them for interrogation, he said. “We do not treat the tailor as a suspect in the case,” said Mr Khattab, while suspecting that the bomber had some local support.

In reply to a question, the CID counter-terror unit chief said that ‘poor probe’ had been conducted by the local police in four other terror cases, including three suicide bombings, in Shikarpur in recent past.

In the attack on Dr Ibrahim Jaoit, a politician in Shikarpur, the body of the suicide bomber was ‘intact’ but no concrete efforts were made by the local police to establish the bomber’s links with militant groups, he added.

There had been no coordination between the local police and CID police of Karachi in the past incidents. But this was the first time that on a direction of the Sindh police chief, the CID police were probing the Shikarpur suicide blast, he said.

SHIKARPUR: While a Shia organisation in Shikarpur on Thursday issued a 24-hour ultimatum to the Sindh government for the arrest of the culprits of the Jan 30 Imambargah carnage, the DIG concerned told the media that people would hear some good news ‘very soon’ in respect of a clue to those behind the bombing.

Larkana DIG Sain Rakhio Mirani told a press conference at the Shikarpur SSP’s office on Thursday evening that the bombing of the Imambargah must not be seen as a localised incident because it could be part of the war being fought at the international level.

He, however, did not agree with some journalists that ‘a terror network’ existed in this district, insisting that Shikarpur was part of the route connecting all four provinces with Afghanistan. The DIG said that three investigation teams including the one headed by himself were conducting a hectic probe into the Imambargah bombing and people would hear news about a breakthrough very soon.

He made mention of three suicide attacks — one of them targeted against former MNA Dr Ibrahim Jatoi and another against a spiritual leader Syed Hajan Shah — within the district in the past, and said the latest bombing seemed different from such acts of terrorism in terms of nature, target and a possible motive.

Earlier, a leading Shia cleric, Allama Maqsood Ahmed Domki, who heads the Shuhada Committee constituted after the carnage, gave an ultimatum to the provincial government to get the culprits arrested within the next 24 hours or else a countrywide protest movement would be launched.

He told a press conference at the central Imambargah that a protest demonstration would be held at Lakhi Gate where the programme for the nationwide protest would be unveiled.

Published in Dawn, February 6th, 2015

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