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Police have arrested 50 suspects in connection with an ongoing investigation into attacks on women in Karachi's Gulistan-e-Jauhar and Gulshan-e-Iqbal areas by the notorious "knife-man", Dawn reported on Friday.

Most of the suspects, detained during raids or random snap-checks, belong to political parties.

Police now suspect that the knife attacks are driven by a political agenda to cause instability and undermine the performance of the law-enforcement agencies, officials said on Friday.

“Most of the detained persons were workers of Muttahida Qaumi Movement-London (MQM-L), MQM-Pakistan, Pak Sarzameen Party(PSP) and Pakistan Peoples Party(PPP),” police sources said, explaining that they had widened the scope of the investigation.

Police had released 27 suspects by Friday evening after different teams verified their particulars, sources told Dawn.

Police sources said that a senior MQM-P leader arrived at the New Town police station where some of the party workers were being interrogated on Thursday night to get them released.

The source alleged that the detained activists had ‘misbehaved’ with the officers during detention; therefore, the police initially appeared reluctant to let them go. However, after senior leaders intervened, the workers were released after submitting a written apology.

Meanwhile, one suspect identified as Asif managed to escape from the Gulistan-e-Jauhar police station. He was arrested from Jinnah Post Graduate Medical Centre (JPMC) for questioning soon after.

Asif told the media that he was tortured by the police to ‘confess’ his involvement in the knife attacks on women. He claimed that he was taken to Dalmia, where policemen ordered him to flee. As he ran, the policemen allegedly opened fire on him but he remained unhurt.

Denying these charges, Karachi-East Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Samiullah Soomro told Dawn that Asif was arrested after police found that he did not have documents of the motorcycle he was riding. Soomro added that most of the people who were taken under police custody did not possess required documents of their motorbikes or a copy of their national identity cards.

He was being taken to the police station by one assistant sub-inspector and constable when he managed to flee, added the SSP.

The officer admitted that the police team detained him from JPMC for questioning. Initial probe revealed that he was not involved in any criminal activity, said the officer, adding that the police would approach his family to verify his particulars.

At least 13 cases of stabbing and injuring women of different ages have taken place in Gulistan-e-Jauhar and Gulshan-e-Iqbal areas of district East from September 25 to October 5.

It appears that such knife attacks on women had recently spread to two other districts of Karachi Central and Korangi as well.

A teenage girl was stabbed and injured in the Federal B Area earlier this week, while a 20-year-old woman was stabbed and injured by a bike rider in the Saudabad area of Korangi on Thursday evening.

The city police on October 15 had stated they had arrested a person of interest, identified as Waseem, from Sahiwal with help of their counterparts there.

However, the held suspect could not be brought to Karachi for further legal action as Punjab police told their counterparts in Sindh that “they wanted to interrogate him for recent attacks on women in Sahiwal, Rawalpindi and recent Lahore first”.