'Hitmen' allegedly involved in attacks on MQM-P, PSP arrested: Sindh Rangers

25 Feb 2019

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Colonel Faisal Awan addresses a press conference at Rangers headquarters in Karachi on Monday. — DawnNewsTV
Colonel Faisal Awan addresses a press conference at Rangers headquarters in Karachi on Monday. — DawnNewsTV

The Pakistan Rangers Sindh on Monday announced that they have arrested eight suspected 'hitmen' allegedly involved in attacks on Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) and Pak Sarzameen Party's (PSP) workers and leaders.

On Dec 9, 2018, an IED blast had taken place at the Mehfil-i-Milad organised by MQM-P in Gulistan-i-Jauhar, injuring seven persons.

Shortly after, on Dec 23, multiple gunmen had resorted to indiscriminate firing on PSP's office in Gulbahar in which two workers had died while two others were injured. Meanwhile, on Feb 11, several suspects had attacked an office of a union council belonging to MQM-P in New Karachi in which an activist named Shakeel Ansari had lost his life and another was hurt.

Colonel Faisal Awan, during a press conference at the Rangers headquarters in Karachi, said that the arrested individuals tie in with the aforesaid attacks. He said that the suspects were being operated by a South Africa-based individual named Mohammed Saleem Baloch alias Belgium, under the direct supervision of MQM founder Altaf Hussain.

The paramilitary force official said that the "team of hitmen" was also being aided by "some women" in the city.

Colonel Awan said that the team was formed in 2018 to target opponents of MQM-London, especially PSP and MQM-P workers and leaders, in an attempt to "sabotage peace and undermine growing political, economic and commercial activities in the city," which he said had become possible after the Rangers-led operation in 2013.

He noted that the Karachi operation had helped restore peace in the city but certain "hostile elements of the country" did not like it.

Colonel Awan said that in light of these events, the paramilitary force had established several teams which had managed to arrest eight suspects who are "part of [a] hit-men’s team being run by Saleem alias Belgium from South Africa".

The Rangers official said that the weapons used in armed attacks on PSP and MQM-P's offices had been recovered from the home of one of the held suspects: Ali Raza.

Colonel Faisal said that Altaf Hussain, in his speeches, had threatened the leaders and workers of MQM-P and PSP and that the ensuing attacks were a continuation of those statements.

With regards to the assassination of late MQM leader and ex-MNA, Syed Ali Raza Abidi, the Rangers official said the investigation was still ongoing and that the police’s counter-terrorism department had made "significant progress" in this case.

Furthermore, Colonel Awan said that "external elements" were trying to develop a nexus between Balochi and Muhajir organisations in the city, adding that law enforcers were monitoring the situation.