Safoora attack evidence points to religious extremists: police

Published May 20, 2015
Thebo believed that all the 11 attackers were associated with a militant group ‘inspired by Al Qaeda’.—Online/file
Thebo believed that all the 11 attackers were associated with a militant group ‘inspired by Al Qaeda’.—Online/file
Police believed that all the 11 attackers were associated with a militant group ‘inspired by Al Qaeda’.—AFP/File
Police believed that all the 11 attackers were associated with a militant group ‘inspired by Al Qaeda’.—AFP/File

KARACHI: As police on Tuesday disclosed the arrest of four militants, including the mastermind of the Safoora Goth carnage, evidence emerged that religious extremists rather than India’s premier intelligence agency were responsible for one of the worst sectarian attacks in the recent history of Karachi.

“Police’s Counter-Terrorism Department has arrested four militants, including the mastermind identified as Tahir, for their involvement in the killing of 45 members of the Shia Ismaili community last week,” said Additional Inspector General of Police, Karachi, Ghulam Qadir Thebo.

Also read: Safoora Goth massacre masterminds arrested: Qaim

Mr Thebo, who also heads the investigation team, told Dawn that the four arrested suspects had informed police that a total of 11 armed men had attacked the bus carrying the Ismailis last Wednesday morning near Safoora Goth and the group was also involved in the killing of human rights activist Sabeen Mahmud and a number of policemen in the city, attacks on members of the Bohra community and an American academic.

The city police chief believed that all the 11 attackers were associated with a militant group ‘inspired by Al Qaeda’ and belonged to different ethnic backgrounds. Four of them hailed from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and an equal number from Punjab.

“The other three were Urdu-speaking,” disclosed the Karachi police chief, citing findings of the initial investigation.

Mr Thebo said the main reason behind the brazen attack on the Shia Ismaili community was religious extremism. The members of the Bohra community were also targeted for the same reason.

He, however, said that Sabeen Mahmud, human rights activist and director of the social forum, The Second Floor, was targeted for being a ‘pro-American and liberal woman’. Mr Thebo claimed that Ms Mahmud was not targeted for holding a seminar on the Balochistan issue.

Similarly, the academic, Dr Debra Lobo, was attacked for being ‘American.’

The group was also allegedly involved in the killing of policemen in Karachi’s Aram Bagh and Preedy areas recently. The policemen were targeted for their pro-active role in the targeted operation against militants in the metropolis, said the head of the investigation team.

“Barring the murders of DSPs Fatah Sangri and Zulfiqar Zaidi and SP Prison Aijaz Haider, this militant group has confessed to involvement in terror acts since December last year in the city,” he said.

Mr Thebo believed that as the targeted operation smashed the network of militants in the city through their killings in ‘encounters’ and arrests, they ‘regrouped’ and became ‘active’ over the past five to six months. “This is a new group, which is inspired by Al Qaeda,” he said.

In reply to a question, the police official said the investigators had received a forensic report about spent bullets used in the armed attack on the bus carrying Ismailis.

He revealed that one 0.9mm pistol used in the attack also matched with an attack on a Rangers official about five months ago in New Town area of Karachi. The officer, however, survived, but his friend was killed in the attack.

Published in Dawn, May 20th, 2015

On a mobile phone? Get the Dawn Mobile App: Apple Store | Google Play

Opinion

New engagement
Updated 19 Apr 2021

New engagement

Better Pak-India ties mean a better regional outcome.
Inequality and ideology
19 Apr 2021

Inequality and ideology

Hunger and want, and the constant reminder of inequality,may condition religious mobilisation, but they are not solely sufficient.
Ties of sentiment
19 Apr 2021

Ties of sentiment

Pakistan-UK relations have been remarkably stable and increasingly energised by the Pakistani diaspora.

Editorial

19 Apr 2021

Vaccine shortfall

THE hope that the slew of Covid-19 vaccinations approved for use since the end of last year would vanquish the ...
Another package
Updated 19 Apr 2021

Another package

Sindh has not seen much development worth the name during the PPP’s more than decade-long rule in the province.
19 Apr 2021

Cricket triumph

TEAM Pakistan have a number of reasons to rejoice after their 3-1 T20 series win over hosts South Africa on Friday....
18 Apr 2021

More cabinet changes

PRIME MINISTER Imran Khan has reshuffled his cabinet yet again in what is obviously another attempt to shore up his...
Blocking social media
Updated 18 Apr 2021

Blocking social media

FOR four hours this week, all social media platforms in the country were shut down, a measure the government said ...
18 Apr 2021

Peasant rights in Sindh

IN a seminar held in Nawabshah recently, the Sindh Human Rights Commission and Hari Welfare Association reiterated a...