KARACHI: Two days after the attempt on the life of leader of the opposition in the Sindh Assembly Khwaja Izhar-ul-Hasan, law enforcers raided the house of the alleged mastermind of the attack on Monday but failed to capture him as he escaped following a fierce gun battle that resulted in the killing of a policeman.
Khwaja Izhar of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan came under an armed attack on Sept 2 as soon as he left a mosque after offering Eid prayers in Karachi’s Buffer Zone locality. He remained unhurt in the incident but one of his police guards and his friend’s son suffered serious bullet wounds and died.
One of the assailants — later identified as Hassaan, a lab technician in the Dawood University of Engineering and Technology (DUET) — was also killed under controversial circumstances.
Late on Sunday night, the militant Ansar-ul-Shariah Pakistan (ASP), in a Twitter message, claimed responsibility for the assassination attempt on “pro-American MQM’s leader khuwaja izhar”.
Ansar-ul-Shariah Pakistan claims responsibility for Eid day attack on MQM leader
A few hours later, intelligence officials along with a heavy contingent of police carried out a targeted raid on Monday morning in Rufi Rose Petals Bungalows — one of the many housing societies in Karachi’s Scheme-33 area near the Superhighway — to arrest a suspected militant but met stiff resistance from him.
As the militant fired indiscriminately, one intelligence official and two policemen sustained bullet wounds and one of them, identified as Constable Aijaz, died.
Malir SSP Rao Anwar said that the militant managed to escape. He identified the suspect as Abdul Karim Sarosh Siddiqui, who he said is linked with the ASP.
“He is the mastermind of the attack on Khwaja Izhar,” claimed SSP Anwar while talking to Dawn. He said that Siddiqui fired at law enforcers with 9mm and TT pistols and the spent bullet casings collected from the scene were sent for a forensic analysis to ascertain whether the same weapons had been used in any previous attack.
According to him, Siddiqui was a student of Karachi University’s Applied Physics Department in 2011. His father was a retired professor of the same university. He was taken into custody for questioning, the SSP said.
Controversy surrounding ‘assassin’ killing
Earlier on Saturday, assailants clad in police uniforms fired at Khwaja Izhar as soon as he emerged from a mosque. He survived the attack, but his guards — Constable Moin, assistant sub-inspector Zulfiqar, Constable Shakeel — area residents Kamran, his son Arsal and Shaikh Abdul Waris sustained bullet wounds. Moin and 13-year-old Arsal died on the spot.
Khwaja Izhar’s guards returned fire but it was still unclear whether their bullets hit any of the assailants.
Initially, police claimed that the law enforcers chased the fleeing suspects and managed to kill one of them. However, footage made from CCTV cameras and cellphones showed charged people beating up one of the suspects after catching him. It was unclear as to how the suspect ended up dead.
Sindh Home Minister Sohail Siyal ordered DIG-South Azad Khan to conduct an inquiry into the circumstances leading to the death of the attacker.
The DIG told Dawn on Monday that the inquiry was still under way as the police were waiting for the final medico-legal report.
He, however, said that the suspect, identified as Hassaan, got injured during an exchange of fire with the police but it was also true that he was subjected to a hiding by a mob.
A senior police officer said that Hassaan was an educated person and worked as a lab technician in the DUET, an engineering university in Karachi.
He belonged to an educated family and his father had a PhD from a university in Islamabad, the official added.
A 9mm pistol was also seized from deceased Hassaan.
Two police officers, who wished not to be named, told Dawn that the 9mm pistol was sent to the forensic lab which confirmed that the same weapon was used in the targeted killings of four policemen in SITE in June and the assassination of a DSP-Traffic and his constable driver in Azizabad in August.
They said that both the attacks were claimed by the ASP, which threw pamphlets on the scenes of crime.
CM promises more security
Also on Monday, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah visited the residence of Opposition Leader Khwaja Izhar to express solidarity with him
He told reporters later that his government had given ample security to MQM leaders and other important personalities and would provide them more security if needed.
“The attack on Izahr-ul-Hasan was an attempt to create fear and insecurity in the city but Almighty Allah kept him safe,” he said.
He said that the planning of the attack “must have been made out of this city and may be out this country”.
He said he would conduct a security audit and verification of students of each and every educational institution to ascertain if they were breeding terrorists. “It is quite painful to see the highly educated persons involved in terrorism,” he said.
Later, the CM went to the residence of the father of victim boy Arsal and offered condolence. He assured him that the killers of his son would be brought to book.
Published in Dawn, September 5th, 2017