THOUSANDS attend funeral prayers of the grenade attack victims in Sherpao Colony, Landhi, on Sunday.—Photo by Shakil Adil / White Star
THOUSANDS attend funeral prayers of the grenade attack victims in Sherpao Colony, Landhi, on Sunday.—Photo by Shakil Adil / White Star

KARACHI: Police on Sunday launched an investigation into the grenade attack on a mini-truck near Mowach Goth, Baldia Town, on Saturday night as the death toll rose to 13, seven females and six boys, officials and relatives said.

All the victims were members of an extended family. Among the dead was an infant while the boys were aged between seven and 15.

Dr Ali Raza Rajpar, medico-legal officer of the Dr Ruth Pfau Civil Hospital Karachi (CHK), who examined the dead and the injured, said that four boys and six women were brought dead to the hospital on Saturday night. Of the injured, a woman and a teenage boy succumbed to their injuries during treatment at the CHK late in the night.

Dr Rajpar said that a boy, identified as Fahad, aged 7-8 years, was referred to the National Institute of Child-Health (NICH) for further treatment, where he died early on Sunday morning, taking the death toll to 13.

Deceased include family members of ANP, JI leaders

The doctor said that six patients were admitted to the hospital. The condition of two females was serious.

The MLO said that the seventh injured young man, Saqib Karim, who was sitting next to the driver’s seat, was also brought to the hospital for treatment. He complained of bodily pain apparently due to the impact of the blast as he did not receive any pellet wound. All other victims suffered pellet wounds on different parts of their bodies, including the head and face. The MLO attributed their deaths to “blast injuries”.

Probe

Police’s Counter-Terrorism Department official Raja Umer Khattab said that so far no group had claimed responsibility for it. He said they were focusing on two possible aspects of the incident. First, the investigators were trying to ascertain whether it was an act of terrorism related to August 14 (Independence Day) as for the last two to three years certain elements had been carrying out acts of terrorism on this day.

“Second, we are also checking family backgrounds of the victims to ascertain if they had any personal enmity,” Mr Khattab added.

“It is an open-ended investigation and we are assessing every possible aspect of the incident.”

He confirmed that so far, 13 people had been killed in the grenade attack.

The deceased belonged to the family of Awami National Party leader Farman Ali and a local Jamaat-i-Islami leader and former UC Nazim of Daud Chowrangi in Landhi, Meraj Mohammed Khan alias Meraj Swati.

Mr Ali and Mr Swati are cousins and the latter was also married to the sister of the former who died in the blast, said a neighbour and family friend, Shahjehan Khan.

A marriage ceremony had taken place around a week ago and they had gone from their residence in Sherpao Colony to Pareshan Chowk in Baldia for the family event as per their tradition. They hired a loading Mazda (truck) for returning home in Landhi when they came under the grenade attack reportedly by gunmen riding a motorcycle near Mowach Goth on Saturday night.

Only females and children were travelling in the truck while one accompanying young man of the family was sitting next to the driver who remained safe in the incident.

Shahjehan Khan and another family friend, Niaz Yusufzai, who is also a local leader of the ANP, said that the victims’ families had no personal enmity with anyone.

“It is against our history, culture and custom to throw bombs on children and women,” they said.

Mr Khan said he believed that the incident was related to Independence Day as miscreants wanted to “sabotage our happiness and celebrations” besides the victims being an “easy target”.

Mr Khan, who remained with the victims at the CHK at night, said the grenade attack had not fallen on the body of the truck. It exploded in the air and landed on the hand of a woman, who was blown up. He recalled that the bodies of two women were also damaged badly in the incident.

He said among the six injured persons, the condition of a girl, in her early 20s, was serious as she had suffered pellet wounds in the head. Doctors examined her condition and told the family that it would not be advisable to operate and take out the pellets from her head.

JI warning

Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) Karachi chief Hafiz Naeemur Rehman has warned the government to arrest the killers of the 13 martyrs immediately, otherwise the party will announce its own strategy.

The JI leader expressed these views on Sunday while talking to the media after the funeral prayers of the 13 martyrs at the Star ground, Landhi.

The victims were laid to rest in a mass grave in the Maula Madad graveyard in Sherpao Colony amid moving scenes.

A large number of area residents, JI leaders and workers participated in the last rituals of the victims.

Sindh Minister Saeed Ghani, PTI leader Haleem Adil Shaikh, MNA Abdul Qadir Mandokhail of the PPP, Aslam Ghouri of the JUI-F, Younus Boneri of the ANP, and several JI leaders, including Munim Zaffar, Birjis Ahmed, Ishaq Khan, Younous Barai and others also attended the funeral prayer.

Published in Dawn, August 16th, 2021

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