Guard killed, all five Japanese safe in Karachi suicide attack

Published April 20, 2024
KARACHI: Members of the Crime Scene Unit and police officers inspect the site of the suicide blast, on Friday.—Shakil Adil / White Star
KARACHI: Members of the Crime Scene Unit and police officers inspect the site of the suicide blast, on Friday.—Shakil Adil / White Star

• Two passers-by injured; another assailant killed by police; one of the attackers said to be linked with BRA
• 10 grenades recovered from two suspects
• President, PM laud timely police response

KARACHI: A private security guard was killed in a suicide attack targeting Japanese nationals near Mansehra Colony in the city’s Landhi neighbourhood on Friday morning, officials said.

The five Japanese, travelling in a van to their workplace, escaped unhurt. Two passers-by were injured, one of them in critical condition. According to witnesses, the attack involved a suicide bomber and a second assailant who was shot dead by police.

No individual or group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

However, Raja Umer Khattab, a senior official at the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD), claimed that one of the deceased attackers was a member of an outlawed Baloch separatist group from Panjgur.

DIG East Azfar Mahesar told Dawn the Japanese nationals were travelling from their residence in Clifton to the export zone when the attackers struck near Murtaza Chowrangi.

“All five Japanese remained safe. However, a private security guard accompanying them and two passers-by were injured,” Mr Mahesar, a retired army captain, said.

He said the guards and police responded swiftly, with a Sharafi Goth police patrolling unit managing to secure the Japanese and escort them to safety.

Investigators seized a submachine gun, a bag full of grenades and a motorcycle at the scene.

A police official, who asked not to be named, claimed that it was a “failed operation” by the militants. He claimed they had mistakenly targeted the Japanese nationals, assuming them as Chinese because of facial resemblances.

DIG Asif Aijaz Shaikh of the CTD told Dawn the van was armoured, which helped prevent casualties among the foreigners. He disclosed that the attackers used a motorcycle to carry out the bombing, adding that the rapid response of the patrolling police averted a greater tragedy.

Mr Khattab said the foreigners were travelling in three vehicles, including a Revo and a Fortuner, apart from the van that was targeted. The company’s senior officials and their guards were travelling in the other two vehicles.

He explained the attack began when the van slowed at a speed breaker, prompting the suicide bomber to detonate the explosives prematurely. Although the blast didn’t harm the Japanese nationals, an accomplice fired at least 15 shots from behind roadblocks, while the foreigners’ guards returned fire. Nearby police responded, and as the shooter focused on the guards, a police officer fatally shot him in the head.

Mr Khattab stated that much impact of the blast was absorbed by a passing van carrying bakery goods. Glasses on only one side of the foreigners’ van were broken.

The deceased guard was identified as Noor Mohammed, 45, who succumbed to injuries at Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC), where two other injured passers-by were also being treated.

Police surgeon Dr Summaiya Syed said one unidentified male body of the alleged suicide bomber was brought in fragments at the JPMC. Dr Syed said there were five pieces of the body of the suspected suicide bomber, but he was identifiable. Therefore, DNA samples were taken.

Another unidentified body of the attacker was also brought, who had received four bullet injuries. His DNA samples were also taken for identification. Both suspects were in their 30s.

Abid Farooq, an official of the Bomb Disposal Squad, told Dawn that a total of six hand grenades and four rifle grenades were recovered from the custody of both suspects.

BRA affiliation

Mr Khattab of CTD claimed that one of the suspects killed, identified as Sohail Ahmed from Panjgur district, was affiliated with the outlawed Baloch Republican Army (BRA).

The official claimed that Ahmed, who had been “missing” since 2022, was previously involved in the Baloch insurgency from 2008 to 13, later joined the Levies Force, and was dismissed in September 2023 after disappearing. Ahmed had reportedly joined the Majeed Brigade, a faction of the BRA, in 2021.

President, PM condemn attack

President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif strongly condemned the suicide attack and lauded police’s timely res­ponse by the to avert casualties.

In separate statements, both the president and prime minister said the timely action by the police averted a huge life loss and reiterated their firm resolve to wipe out terrorism from the country.

Published in Dawn, April 20th, 2024

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