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KARACHI: Police investigators probing the assassination of former Muttahida Qaumi Movement leader and ex-MNA Syed Ali Raza Abidi have claimed having achieved a “breakthrough” in the murder case as the alleged hitmen and their facilitators have been identified and the killing appeared to be motivated by political considerations, it emerged on Thursday.

Separately, officials also suspected the involvement of the “same group” in the deadly attacks on the union council office of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan in New Karachi on Monday and an office of the Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) in the Rizvia Society police limits last year as one of the same weapons (9mm pistol) was used in both incidents, in which three persons were killed.

Former lawmaker Abidi, 46, was shot dead by gunmen on a motorcycle in an attack on his car in front of his residence in Defence Housing Authority, Phase V, on Dec 25.

‘At least six persons were involved in planning, reconnaissance and murder’

“Police and intelligence agencies personnel have solved the murder case of Ali Raza Abidi as investigators have unearthed as to who planned and executed it,” said a senior police officer familiar with the investigation of the high-profile case.

The officer, who wished not to be named, told Dawn that at least six persons were involved in the planning, reconnaissance and murder.

“Two of them have been detained while four others are still at large,” said the officer.

Regarding a possible motive, the senior police officer said that it was “political killing”, not sectarian, as the victim had been vocal on “certain issues”.

Another officer, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity, explained that the “hitmen and their facilitators” had been identified while the identity of the mastermind was yet to be established.

The officer said that since Abidi’s murder appeared to be “paid killing”, sometimes it was relatively difficult to establish the identity of the mastermind in such “contract” killings.

‘Same group’ involved in attacks on MQM-P, PSP offices

Investigators probing the deadly attack on a union council office of the MQM-Pakistan in New Karachi on Monday, which claimed the life of one worker, Shakeel Ansari, and caused injuries to another person, Azam, suspected the involvement of the same group which had targeted an office of the PSP in the Rizvia Society police limits last year that claimed the lives of two workers.

Several armed men riding motorbikes had used three weapons — one Kalashnikov and two 9mm pistols — in the deadly attack this week.

The police investigators collected several spent bullet casings fired from both a Kalashnikov and the 9mm pistols and sent them to the police’s forensic science laboratory.

The forensic laboratory report confirmed that one of the 9mm pistols had been used in the deadly attack on an office of the PSP in the Rizvia Society area on Dec 23, said Counter-Terrorism Department officer in charge of the Transnational Terrorism Intelligence Group Raja Umar Khattab.

Two PSP workers — Azhar Rehmat, 35, and Naeem Ramzan, 40 — were shot dead while two others — Fahad Akhtar, 30, and Yasir, 35 — were injured when several armed motorbike riders opened indiscriminate fire on the party office. The incident had taken place two days before the assassination of Ali Raza Abidi in Defence.

CTD official Khattab said that this was probably the first time that a Kalashnikov was used in “political killing” in New Karachi since 2013.

The counterterrorism force official, who has been investigating terror and political killings in the metropolis for years, said that the use of an SMG, or KK, and 30-bore pistol had a “particular history” in the provincial capital.

Published in Dawn, February 15th, 2019