PESHAWAR: Supporters of the Awami National Party block GT Road and burn tyres as they protest against killing of the president of the party’s city chapter on Saturday.—PPI
PESHAWAR: Supporters of the Awami National Party block GT Road and burn tyres as they protest against killing of the president of the party’s city chapter on Saturday.—PPI

PESHAWAR: Assailants shot dead a local leader of the Awami National Party (ANP) in the Gulbahar area on Satu­rday afternoon, police said.

Sartaj Khan, president of the ANP’s Peshawar city chapter, was in his vehicle behind the Gulbahar police station when attackers opened fire, killing him on the spot.

He was also a member of the Peshawar District Council.

A Gulbahar police official told Dawn that the incident happened at around 2pm, adding that two empties of a 30-bore pistol were found at the scene of the attack.

Mr Khan was shot twice in the face and chest.

The official said the vehicle had apparently stopped near a general store. “Most probably, it’s a case of targeted killing and the attackers were on a bike,” he said.

Gulbahar ASP Ahmed Zunair Cheema said the police were investigating the case. He said they were looking into the details of the case, adding that no one had approached the police yet for the registration of a case. He said they did not have the CCTV footage of the crime.

SSP operations Zahoor Babar Afridi said it was not clear whether it was a targeted killing or some other motive was involved.

Meanwhile, over 150 ANP workers led by the party’s central general secretary Mian Iftikhar Hussain and provincial general secretary Sardar Hussain Babak held a protest against the killing.

The participants blocked the GT Road near Firdous Chowk by placing Sartaj Khan’s body, burnt tyres and chanted slogans against the government.

Addressing the protesters, Mian Iftikhar Hussain termed the attack a targeted killing. He said the incident was part of the pattern in which so many ANP leaders had been eliminated over the past several years.

Mr Hussain called upon the government to arrest the killers of Sartaj Khan and said they rejected the hollow condemnations from the provincial government.

ANP chief Asfandyar Wali Khan in a statement said that presence of terrorists in interior parts of city put a question mark over the government claims of breaking the back of terrorism.

He alleged that “state-sponsored” terrorists had been given a free hand to eliminate the ANP leadership. He said the killing of his party workers had been started to keep the ANP out of upcoming polls in merged districts.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa ANP president Aimal Wali Khan in a separate statement announced three days of mourning for Sartaj Khan. He said Sartaj Khan was killed near a police station yet the police failed to arrest the killers. He claimed that the Taliban were roaming the city streets in the guise of jihadis.

ANP lawmaker Shakeel Bashir Umerzai submitted a resolution in the assembly, condemning the killing and demanding the arrest of killers.

The ANP has been the target of Taliban for more than a decade as over 1,000 of its workers and leaders have died in targeted and suicide attacks.

Published in Dawn, June 30th, 2019