5 Japanese nationals unhurt in suicide attack on vehicle in Karachi: police

Published April 19, 2024
View of a damaged car after a suicide blast in Karachi on April 19, 2024. — Reuters
View of a damaged car after a suicide blast in Karachi on April 19, 2024. — Reuters

Police said on Friday that five Japanese nationals were unhurt after their vehicle was targeted by a suicide bomber in Karachi’s Landhi area.

The suicide bomber was killed in the attack while an accomplice was gunned down by police, officials said. A private security guard accompanying the Japanese national died after succumbing to his injuries while two bystanders were also injured, officials added.

Deputy Inspector General (DIG) East Azfar Mahesar told Dawn.com that the incident took place near Murtaza Chowrangi in Landhi, adding that the five foreign nationals were travelling in a Hiace van.

“All five Japanese remained safe,” he said. “The Japanese nationals were on the way to Export Processing Zone from their residence in Zamzama,” he said.

Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) DIG Asif Aijaz Shaikh told Dawn.com that the Japanese nationals were travelling in a van along with two security guards when a suicide bomber on a motorcycle hit them.

“All five Japanese nationals are safe,” DIG Shaikh said. He further said that another “suicide bomber” who was there for “backup” was gunned down by a Sharafi Goth police party patrolling the area.

“No one has claimed responsibility so far,” the DIG said, adding that the vehicle carrying the Japanese nationals was bullet-proof.

Speaking to the media at the scene, CTD in-charge Raja Umar Khattab said that the Japanese nationals were travelling in a convoy of three cars.

“The suicide bomber and his accomplice were already present in the area. When they saw the cars, the suicide bomber attacked,” he said. The official further said that the attacker’s accomplice “panicked” as the suicide attack did not achieve its objective and began open firing.

He said that officials gunned down the second terrorist. “From what I checked, the terrorist fired about 15 rounds. Other than that, he also had some grenades,” Khattab said.

The CTD official reiterated that the foreign nationals were unhurt, adding that timely action by police and security guards had thwarted the attack.

The miscreants had followed the Japanese group’s vehicle for some time before the attack, he said, with authorities suspecting they carried out reconnaissance to identify the target and location of the attack.

Khattab later told Dawn.com Khattab that one of the suspects was identified as Sohail Ahmed, 30, a resident of Balochistan’s Panjgur in Balochistan.

The CTD official said the suspect was reportedly affiliated with the outlawed Baloch Republican Army and was “missing” from his home since 2022.

In Tokyo, Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, Yoshimasa Hayashi, told a press conference that one Japanese national was confirmed to have been injured and the government was checking details, having flagged the risk to other citizens in Pakistan.

One guard dead, 2 bystanders injured

Police spokesperson Abrar Hussain Baloch said earlier that two bystanders and the guard with the Japanese nationals had suffered injuries.

Speaking to Dawn.com later in the day, police surgeon Dr Summaiya Syed said that the injured guard, identified as 45-year-old Noor Mohammed, succumbed to injuries during treatment at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre.

She added that the victim suffered head wounds. The police surgeon noted that the condition of one of the two remaining injured persons was critical.

PM praises ‘timely action’ by police

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif strongly condemned the incident and prayed for the recovery of the injured, according to a statement posted on X.

“Timely action by the police saved us from any major loss of life,” he said.

“We will not rest until terrorism has been completely eradicated. We will thwart every nefarious act of disturbing the law and order situation,” the premier said.

President Asif Ali Zardari also commended the police’s timely action against the terrorists. In a statement carried by Radio Pakistan, he said that timely action by police prevented major casualties.

He expressed the firm commitment to collectively wipe out terrorists.

The Foreign Office (FO) said the government strongly condemned the “heinous act of terrorism”, adding that all necessary measures would be taken to bring the perpetrators to justice.

“Such dastardly acts only strengthen the resolve of the government and the people of Pakistan to eliminate the scourge of terrorism.

“Pakistan remains committed to ensuring the safety of foreign nationals residing in the country. We will continue to work with our international partners to fight terrorism in all its forms and manifestations,” the FO said.

Former foreign minister and PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari strongly condemned the attack and prayed for the speedy recovery of the injured, according to a statement on X by the party’s official account.

He expressed the hope that the perpetrators of the attack would be brought to justice. “Foreign nationals are our guests, and respecting and protecting guests is our national slogan,” he said.

The ex-foreign minister emphasised that relations between Pakistan and Japan were of utmost importance, adding that the enemies of both countries were trying to ruin these ties.

Today’s incident comes less than a month after five Chinese nationals and one Pakistani were killed in a suicide bombing in Bisham, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

According to police, the bus was travelling from Islamabad to Kohistan when it came under the attack on Karakoram Highway.

Sindh govt seeks reports on incident

Separately, Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah directed Sindh Inspector General Ghulam Nabi Memon to submit a report after investigating the attack, including details on who the terrorists were, where they came from, any information on their facilitators and details of explosives used in the blast.

He directed that immediate arrangements be made for the security of the foreign nationals.

“Anti-national elements want to disrupt law and order, which will not be allowed at any cost,” the CM said, praising the timely action of the police.

Sindh Transport Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon strongly condemned the attack. “The timely action of the police has foiled the ambitions of the terrorists,” Memon said in a statement.

“The nefarious actions of the terrorists will not be allowed to succeed,” he added.

Meanwhile, Sindh Interior Minister Ziaul Hassan Lanjar also directed that the security personnel injured while escorting the Japanese nationals receive immediate medical treatment.

He ordered the Karachi additional IG to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the incident and submit a report. “No one will be allowed to sabotage the law and order situation,” Lanjar said.

A separate statement said that Lanjar had issued a high-security alert across Sindh until further notice.

With regards to Friday prayers, foolproof security arrangements should be made at mosques, Imambargahs and other open spaces, the provincial interior minister said.

District senior superintendent of police (SSPs) and sub-divisional police officers have been called into the field, while station house officers have been directed to be alert and diligent in security measures, he said.

Additionally, focus should be given to random snap checking, picketing and patrolling, Lanjar said. He further directed that security deployment should be made prominent, while communication strategies should be integrated and effective.

A statement from the police spokesperson said that Sindh Inspector General of Police Ghulam Nabi Memon announced cash awards and appreciation certificates for the police party that foiled the attack.

He also announced a Rs500,000 cash award and recommended Constable Qasim Habib for the Quaid-i-Azam Police Medal for his primary role in thwarting the attack.

Additional input from Reuters and additional reporting by Abdullah Momand.


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