KARACHI: A day after the Sindh apex committee expressed satisfaction over the ongoing Rangers-led Karachi operation, gunmen struck again in the city on Friday and shot dead three workers of the outlawed Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat, two members of the Tableeghi Jamaat and a prayer leader in what police suspected as targeted killings on sectarian grounds.

The latest attacks came as a grim reminder of the Oct 29 killing of five persons, including three brothers, who were targeted outside a Nazimabad house where a Muharram majlis for women was in progress.

Counter Terrorism Department chief Sanaullah Abbasi said that the incidents could be the reaction to the Oct 29 Nazimabad killings. “In all its probability these incidents are sectarian in nature.”

On Friday night, CTD official Raja Umar Khatab told Dawn that all three killings were apparently carried out by one group as the forensic examination of the spent bullet casings recovered from the site of the three attacks revealed that they were fired from a same weapon.

Police and party officials said two helmet-wearing motorcyclists targeted Maulana Usman Haidery, Mohammed Yaqoob and Shahid Rafiq — all in their early 30s — near Shafiq Mor. The trio, also on a motorbike, was heading home after attending a rally at Nagan Chowrangi near the ASWJ’s local headquarters.

SSP Muqaddas Haider told Dawn that when the three men fell from their bike the assailants pumped more bullets into them and rode away. The victims were rushed to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, where doctors declared them dead.

He said that the police collected five spent bullet casings fired from a 9mm pistol from the crime scene.

An ASWJ spokesperson told Dawn that Maulana Haidery was the prayer leader at a local mosque in Gulistan-i-Jauhar.

Earlier, two member of the Tableeghi Jamaat were killed in Patel Para.

Jamshed Quarters SHO Inam Hasan Junejo said that armed pillion riders targeted them near Fatima Bai Hospital and rode away. They were taken to the Civil Hospital Karachi where doctors pronounced Mohammed Amin, 30, dead. Abdul Baqi, 35, died during treatment, said senior Medico-Legal Officer Qarar Ahmed.

While the ASWJ spokesman claimed that the two victims were also their supporters, the area SHO said that they hailed from Khuzdar and were associated with the Tableeghi Jamaat.

In the third incident, a prayer leader was shot dead in North Nazimabad on Friday.

SSP Haider said that after leading the Friday prayer at a mosque in Block-H, Shafiq Rehman, 30, was feeding pigeons when armed pillion riders targeted him and fled.

He was shot in the head and was taken to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital where he died during treatment.

The SSP said his association with any religious party or group could not be ascertained till late in the night.

ASWJ President Allama Aurangzeb Farooqi blamed the “supporters of Houthi rebels in Karachi” for targeting his party workers and supporters.

He asked the provincial government, Rangers director general and the police chief to take immediate steps to arrest the killers.

The Majlis Wahdat-i-Muslimeen condemned the Friday killings and said that the incidents put a question mark over the performance of the government and law enforcement agencies.

MWM leader Ali Husain Naqvi demanded immediate arrests of the suspects involved in all terrorism incidents since first Muharram in the city.

Meanwhile, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah took notice of the killings and directed the police authorities to take immediate action against those destabilising peace in the city.

Published in Dawn, November 5th, 2016