ISLAMABAD: A man entered the Red Zone on Wednesday and began firing a submachine gun in front of the Supreme Court, in an incident described by Minister for Interior Ijaz Shah as a security breach.

Police officials said that the Senate was in session and SC judges were inside the court at the time of the shooting. Mr Shah and high level Islamabad administration and police officials were at the Convention Centre, attending a ceremony to mark the renaming of Kashmir Highway Srinagar Highway.

Officers told Dawn on condition of anonymity that a young man in black was seen firing a submachine gun in front of the SC. Police deployed on Constitution Avenue and at nearby government buildings were alerted, and the man was taken into custody.

They said the man fired a few shots while chanting ‘Khatm-i-Nabuwat zindabad’, and then surrendered to police who approached to arrest him. The police also seized the submachine gun and recovered nine bullet shells from the site, they said.

The alleged shooter was taken to the Secretariat police station, and he continued to chant the slogan on the way to and at the station.

The man has been identified as a 22-year-old from Hangu. He is a second year student and has six siblings. The gun he used is owned by his father, who is a schoolteacher in Hangu.

The man arrived in Islamabad in a passenger vehicle on Wednesday, the officers said. He hid the firearm in sacks of flour.

He disembarked from the vehicle at Mandi Mor, where he bought a bag and placed the submachine gun inside it, they said. He then took taxi to D-Chowk. He was not allowed into the Red Zone from D-Chowk because the road was closed off, so he then went to Faisal Mosque for some time.

He then hired another private taxi and travelled to the Afghan Embassy, entering the Red Zone from the area in front of Parliament Lodges and heading to the SC.

Once outside the court, he began firing the submachine gun.

During interrogation, the man told police that he had previously visited the Red Zone with his father for a meeting with a lawmaker at Parliament Lodges.

Speaking to the press at the Convention Centre, the interior minister said: “Certainly it is a security breach.” He was informed of the shooting during the event, he said.

He added that such incidents could take place in the current environment and because of neighbouring countries, but this should not have happened.

Officers said that the station house officer of the Secretariat police station and the Red Zone in-charge were suspended.

Inspector General of Police Mohammad Amir Zulfikar and Deputy Inspector General of Police (Operations) Waqaruddin Syed could not be reached to comment on the breach in secret and the police’s failure to check as an armed person roamed around the city despite repeated attempts.

However, in a message, Deputy Inspector General of Police (Operations) Waqaruddin Syed said the man was arrested from the spot and the weapon was recovered from him. He said further legal procedure is in progress.

Published in Dawn, August 6th, 2020