A two-year-old boy was killed on Tuesday after being caught in an exchange of fire between police and alleged muggers on Karachi's University Road, Deputy Inspector General (DIG) East Amir Farooqi told Dawn.
According to DIG Farooqi, police officials had set up a picket near Safoora Goth when a passer-by complained that he had been relieved of cash and other valuables by two muggers.
The policemen fired at the motorcycle-riding muggers, with some of their shots also hitting a rickshaw in which the minor and his parents were travelling, said the senior officer. While the parents remained safe, the child named Mohammad Ahsan Shaikh sustained gunshot wounds and expired.
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Both the police officials have been arrested, DIG Farooqi said, adding that the police force had been given explicit instructions to not resort to firing in open public spaces. He said that the detained policemen claim that the fleeing suspects had also fired at them.
Sindh Inspector General (IG) of Police, Dr Syed Kaleem Imam, took notice of the incident after it was reported in the media, and instructed DIG Farooqi to conduct an inquiry and submit a reported delineating the measures taken by the police.
The Sindh government also took notice of the incident, with the chief minister's adviser Murtaza Wahab "expressing his sorrow and assuring the family of providing them justice".
Cases of innocent civilians, especially children, getting caught in crossfire between police officials and fleeing suspects are a frequent occurrence.
The most prominent instance, was that of 10-year-old Amal Umer, who was hit by a bullet fired by a policeman in a Defence locality on August 13 during an alleged shoot-out.
In another incident in January this year, a man travelling in a rickshaw lost his life after being injured in a crossfire between police and suspected robbers on Karachi's Sharea Faisal.
In February, a medical student was caught in crossfire between police and robbers in North Karachi and lost her life.
Most recently, on Apr 6, a 10-year-old boy was killed after getting caught in an exchange of fire between police and a recently released alleged criminal in Karachi's Quaidabad area.