Two gunmen who allegedly shot at a police checkpoint in Islamabad late last night and succumbed to their injuries on Thursday morning were suspects in the F-9 park rape, the Islamabad Police said on Thursday.
The brazen attack in a park in the capital shocked the nation and renewed questions over the safety of women in the country.
This morning, the police said in a Twitter thread that gunmen astride a motorcycle shot at police barricade D-12, and due to the police’s “safety measures”, the personnel remained unharmed. The gunmen, who at the time were unidentified, were taken to hospital gravely wounded, where they died. The police did not specify how the pair was injured.
In a tweet hours later, the police said the “attackers” were identified and that they were involved in the F-9 rape incident, among other “serious crimes”. One of the suspects was involved in a deadly mugging, it added.
Earlier, it said identification efforts were under way after it tweeted details of an “attack” on a checkpoint, without specifying how the suspects were wounded.
It alleged that the suspects “opened fire as soon as they saw the police while all cars were being checked strictly” at the checkpoint.
NA body questions police action
Separately, the National Assembly Committee on Human Rights rejected the report presented by Islamabad Inspector General (IG) Dr Akbar Nasir Khan regarding the incident.
Last week, NA Deputy Speaker Zahid Akram Durrani had directed the police chief to take action against the culprits and submit a report in the house within 24 hours. He had given the ruling when a number of lawmakers drew the attention of the house to the rape incident and called for action against police officials responsible for the security of the park.
During today’s committee’s meeting, the IG briefed the lawmakers — including Qadir Khan Mandokhail, Mohsin Dawar, and Shahida Rehmani — on the investigation conducted thus far.
Remarking that the police chief’s work was still “under process”, Mandokhail asked, “How many people will have to lose their honour before you take action?”
“Such a huge incident has taken place and you could not take any action till now,” he added.
However, the IG responded that the matter was still “sub judice” and could not be discussed.
The lawmakers took exception to the remarks and Mandokhail announced that he was was boycotting the meeting in protest. “We are not sitting here to wile away the time,” he said.
Dawar demanded that the “IG would have to give answers and should also watch his tone”. Addressing the police official, he said, “IG sahab, you are not sitting in a police station. You may lecture us on ethics.”
IG Khan then apologised to the committee for his remarks and told the participants that police had arrested two suspects.
MNA Rehmani then said, “You said at night that two people have been arrested. Then we receive news in the morning that both have been killed at a checkpoint.
“Questions do arise. How did you find out that they (the killed suspects) were the same (as the rape suspects)?” she asked.
The police IG responded that the findings were a “part of the investigations”, to which Mandokhail asked if it would not be called an “extra-judicial killing”.
IG Khan, however, took a U-turn and instead said, “We never claimed to have arrested [the suspects].”
‘Don’t come to the park at this time’
In the FIR filed, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, the victim stated she had gone to the F-9 Park at about 8pm on Thursday along with her male colleague, Amjad, when “two men stopped [us] at gunpoint and took them towards a jungle”.
The victim then offered the men to take any belongings if they wanted but they “beat her” so that she should not make a sound and separated her from her colleague, the FIR stated.
She added when one of the men asked what her relationship with the colleague was, she answered in a “loud voice”, upon which he slapped her and threatened that he would “bring six to seven more people and you have no inkling of what they would do with you”.
The man said he would frisk her, to which she replied “go ahead, I don’t have a single penny”.
The suspect then ordered the victim to “be quiet, shook my hair aggressively, shoved me to the ground and committed a vile act”, the statement said.
It added that the armed man struck her leg with the gun when she tried to grab it and “threw my clothes at a distance so I could not run away”.
The victim said the other man, who was called by the first suspect and was “not of much age”, committed the same “wrong act” even though she had pleaded him not to and had offered money.
Afterwards, he asked the victim about what she does for a living and told her to “not come to the park at this time”, the FIR said.
It was further stated that the suspects “returned everything and even gave them a Rs1,000 note to not tell anyone anything”. “They then asked us to sit down and themselves ran away towards the jungle.”
The FIR highlighted that the victim was taken to the Pakistan Institute Of Medical Sciences hospital where her medical check-up was conducted.
High alert, increased security
Last month, Punjab Police Inspector General Aamir Zulfiqar Khan had issued orders to put security on high alert across the province.
He had directed that the security arrangements of sensitive and public places should be tightened in all districts, including the provincial capital Lahore.
The inspector had also directed that the Special Branch and the CTD should beef up intelligence-based operations and provide all possible support to the district police teams in defeating criminals.
The heightened security measures had been employed a day after a policeman was martyred and six people were injured in a blast in Islamabad’s I-10 neighbourhood on Dec 23, 2022.
The same month, the capital police had decided to link cameras installed at metro bus stations with the Islamabad safe city network to enhance surveillance.