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.
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