KARACHI / SUKKUR / LARKANA: Four people, including two Rangers personnel, lost their lives and 10 others were injured in attacks in Ghotki, Karachi and Larkana on Friday.
A Sindh-based banned militant organisation claimed responsibility for the attacks while police said involvement of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-London could not be ruled out.
Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned the three attacks and prayed for the deceased and grant of patience to their families to bear this irreparable loss. He sought a report on the attacks.
Two Rangers’ personnel and one passerby were killed and another Rangers man and a civilian were injured in an explosion near a vehicle of the paramilitary force in the Ghota market area on railway station road in Ghotki.
In Karachi, a young civilian was killed while a Rangers sepoy was among eight injured in a grenade attack at an office of the Ehsaas programme in Liaquatabad.
Banned Sindh-based group claims responsibility; police say evidence suggests involvement of ‘sleeper cells’ being handled from abroad
In Larkana, assailants reportedly riding a motorcycle threw a cracker inside the Rangers Public School. It went off but could not cause any damage to life or property since the school was closed.
The banned Sindhudesh Revolutionary Army (SRA) has claimed responsibility for the attacks on law enforcers. A spokesman for the group made the claim in a statement issued on Friday.
The police believed that the target of the Karachi attack was Rangers and said two suspects riding a motorbike threw a hand grenade from a bridge that landed near a mobile of Rangers who were performing duty during distribution of cash among the poor at Anjuman Islamia School in Liaquatabad where an office of Ehsaas programme has been established.
Additional police surgeon of Abbasi Shaheed Hospital Dr Mohammad Saleem said that they received the body of Kashif Mohammad, 30, and seven injured identified as Saleem Anwar, 26; Roshan Ali; 40, Zeeshan, 29; Faizan, 28; Narain Kanji, 50; Sabir, 52; and Aymal Khan, 20. None of them suffered serious injuries and they were discharged after being administered first aid. A police official said that one Rangers sepoy, Munawar, was also injured in the incident.
Karachi police chief, Additional IG Ghulam Nabi Memon told Dawn they had found “some clues” but they could not share such information with the media at this moment.
Raja Umer Khattab of the Counter Terrorism Department, who is investigating the incident, said sub-nationalist groups might be involved in the attack at they preferred grenade attack partly because it was easy to escape after throwing it.
He said they were also probing the possibility of involvement of MQM-London elements as Altaf Husain had recently issued a pamphlet, giving a “message to Sindhi brethren.” He said it was significant to note that the date (June 19) which was chosen for the attack was the same when an operation was launched against the MQM in 1992.
He said that evidence emerged so far suggested involvement of “sleeper cells” of ethnic militants who were being handled from abroad.
He said they were also probing the involvement of a foreign hostile agency in these attacks.
In Ghotki, the explosion took place near a vehicle of Rangers claiming the lives of Rangers’ personnel Zahoor Ahmed and Fayaz Ahmed and a passerby, Ghulam Mustafa Bhayo.
Another Rangers man, Imtiaz, and another civilian were injured and taken the Taluka Hospital Ghotki from where Imtiaz was referred to a Rahim Yar Khan hospital.
According to police, Rangers personnel were buying meat from a shop when the explosion took place.
Later, a van carrying a team of Bomb Disposal Squad personnel coming from Sukkur to the venue of the explosion overturned on the motorway after its tyre burst. All the occupants of the van were injured. They were identified as Sub Inspector Meehon Khan, Abdul Jabbar Abbasi, Falak Sher Jat, Hal Jan Mahar, Suhail Ahmed, Ali and Gulfam. They were taken to the Ghotki hospital where Meehon Khan died. Gulfam and Falak Sher were shifted to the Combined Military Hospital in Pano Akil Cantonment due to their critical injuries.
Meanwhile, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, presiding over an urgent meeting on law and order late on Friday, expressed his dismay over the attacks. He directed the law enforcement agencies to strengthen their efforts to curb such terrorist elements who were trying to take benefit of the situation in which the government was busy in combating the coronavirus pandemic.
Mohammad Hussain Khan from Hyderabad contributed to this report
Published in Dawn, June 20th, 2020