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KARACHI: A teenage student was killed and a passer-by wounded in crossfire between police and drug peddlers in Afghan Camp, also known as Kochi Camp, near Superhighway on Saturday morning, officials and witnesses said.

The incident sparked a protest by area people who staged a sit-in on Superhighway, now called M-9 Motorway, along with the coffin of the student for a considerable period of time, causing a traffic mess on the busy highway that links the city with the rest of the country.

The police said that a heavy contingent of law enforcers raided Khilji Goth near Kochi Camp, where Afghan refugees have been living since long, in an operation to flush out drug peddlers.

On seeing the police, the suspects resorted to firing and the law enforcers returned fire.

Police say Kochi Camp has become a drug distribution hub

During an exchange of gunfire, a passer-by, identified as 19-year-old Bilal who was an intermediate student, was killed and another passer-by, Shakeel, 20, was wounded, said Karachi police chief Dr Amir Ahmed Shaikh.

Another senior official, DIG East Amir Farooqi said that a few suspects were taken into custody and drugs and arms were seized from their custody.

He said that the raid was conducted at around 10am as the police got reports that the place was a hub of distribution of drugs for onward sale in the city.

The body of Bilal was brought to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital to fulfil medico-legal formalities.

Additional police surgeon Saleem Shaikh said that the teenager sustained three bullet wounds.

The wounded Shakeel sustained a bullet wound in the abdomen and was admitted for treatment, he added.

Residents stage protest sit-in

Carrying the coffin of the deceased student, the area people staged a sit-in and blocked both tracks of the M-9 for vehicular traffic at around 1.20pm.

The police and local administration held talks with the protesters and managed to get both the tracks vacated from them after 28 minutes of the protest, said an official of the Motorway Police.

However, the protesters gathered again and blocked both the tracks. They ended their protest at around 2.45pm after getting assurances from authorities, the official said, adding that the sit-in caused a traffic jam on the Motorway, causing immense inconveniencies to motorists and commuters.

Probe body formed

Karachi police chief Shaikh told Dawn that he had set up a body led by DIG East Farooqi and comprising SSP East and Sharea Faisal ASP to ascertain the circumstances which led to the student’s death.

He promised that the inquiry would be conducted on merit and if the police were found involved in the killing they would be taken to task as per law.

He said that after assuming office of the city police chief two weeks ago, he had ordered a crackdown against street criminals and drug peddlers as there was a strong link between them.

Around 365 suspects involved in street crimes had been arrested and 50 per cent of them were drug addicts who kill or injured their victim upon resistance.

He said several areas such as Gadap, Malir, Shah Latif Town and Ibrahim Hyderi had been identified as the spots where drugs were being sold.

Another police official, who wished not to be named, told Dawn that two drug peddlers were involved in selling drugs off the Motorway and one of them had reportedly joined politics.

Now, his close relatives were selling drugs there, he added.

Published in Dawn, August 26th, 2018