HYDERABAD: The residences of at least six Pakistan People’s Party leaders, including the Sindh Assembly speaker and two provincial ministers, were targeted in different parts of the province on Tuesday in a series of bomb attacks linked to a shadowy organisation, the Sindhudesh Liberation Army, officials said.
While two of the improvised explosive devices — one planted at the gate of the Shikarpur residence of Sindh Minister for Local Bodies Agha Siraj Durrani and the other hurled into the bungalow of PPP lawmaker Imdad Ali Pitafi in Hyderabad — went off early in the morning, the bomb disposal squad timely defused four other bombs placed at the residences of Speaker Nisar Ahmad Khuhro and Law Minister Ayaz Soomro in Larkana, lawmakers Syed Faseeh Shah in Nawabshah and Haji Hayat Talpur in Mirpurkhas.
The early morning explosions came as a grim reminder of the killings of six PPP activists and a journalist in a gun attack on a public meeting in Khairpur on Sunday night. MNA Nafeesa Shah of the PPP was scheduled to address the meeting.
The police, meanwhile, claimed to have caught a man red-handed who was fleeing after placing an explosive device outside the Larkana residence of Mr Khuhro.
It was in the early hours of Tuesday when staff on duty at the Nazar Mohalla residence of the Sindh Assembly speaker noticed some suspicious activity outside the house and informed a police van about it. The police after a brief chase picked up a man outside the house and seized a bag of explosives found in his possession, said Larkana DIG Abdul Khalique Shaikh.
The bomb weighing around 1.5 pounds was defused. Interrogation with the suspect was under way, the DIG said.
At the same time, a similar explosive device wrapped in a polythene bag was thrown into the house of Sindh Minister for Law Ayaz Soomro in Shaikh Zayed Colony, the police said.
The staff deputed at his house informed the police who called a bomb disposal squad. The house was swept and declared clear by the squad after defusing the bomb weighing about 1.5 pounds, said DIG Shaikh.
Speaking to Dawn, Larkana Deputy Commissioner Asadullah Abro said that a pamphlet of Sindhudesh Liberation Army was found in the courtyard of the house of the law minister that he suspected had been thrown along with the ‘firecracker’.
The incidents took place between 4am and 6am.
Sources said that the police obtained the footage of a closed-circuit television camera focused at the house of the minister.
In Hyderabad, furniture and fittings in the bungalow of PPP lawmaker Imdad Ali Pitafi were damaged and his two cousins, Asif and Zaman, were hit by shards of glass from windows when an improvised explosive device exploded on Tuesday.
The IED thrown from a street behind the house shattered windowpanes and damaged tables, chairs and sofas, the police said.
The blast also caused a crater in the floor, they added.
While there is resentment among Sindh nationalist parties over the recently passed Sindh People’s Local Government Act-2012, Mr Pitafi ruled out the involvement of mainstream nationalist parties protesting against the law.
“It is a terrorist activity,” he said, while showing a pamphlet that he said was found after the explosion.
Such pamphlets are usually found from sites of bomb blasts carried out at railway tracks and purportedly issued by Sindhudesh Liberation Army commander Darya Khan.
“We are not frightened,” Mr Pitafi said, “we have planned a meeting of party leaders and parliamentarians at my residence on Wednesday to finalise the arrangements for the Oct 15 public meeting.”
He reiterated that the Oct 15 meeting would be held as planned.
He said that PPP workers were peaceful and believed that Sindh is land of mystics.
“But such type of politics can’t be appreciated in which families are attacked. I will request the party leadership to let us handle the situation, but I know the party believes in the principles laid down by Benazir Bhutto,” he said. His father Bux Ali Pitafi had left home shortly before the blast. “It is perhaps an attempt to deter us from holding the meeting at our home on Wednesday,” he said.
Saleem Vistro of the bomb disposal squad said that the device weighed around three pounds and it was locally made.
A large number of PPP leaders and workers and friends of the Pitafi family reached the MPA’s house and expressed solidarity with him and his family.
Hyderabad SSP Pir Farid Jan Sarhandi said the police were conducting raids to arrest those associated with the group.
Earlier, an explosive device went off at the gate of the Garhi Yasin residence of Sindh Minister for Local Bodies Agha Siraj Durrani.
However, no casualty was reported in the small-scale blast.
Police and Rangers rushed to the spot and cordoned off the area. They recovered a spent casing of a cracker weighing about 250grams from the site of the explosion that damaged the iron gate of Kot Durani.
A three-member investigation team comprising DSP Imtiaz Ali Soomro, DSP Meer Ahmed Chandio and Rangers District Commander Major Tariq was constituted following the explosion. Shikarpur SSP Parvez Chandio said that an FIR of the incident would be registered after receiving the investigation report from the committee.
In Nawabshah, a bomb was spotted and defused outside the residence of PPP lawmaker Syed Faseeh Ahmed Shah at 7am.
Officials of the bomb disposal squad said the IEF weighed about 500grams.
Later residences of all the five lawmaker in the district were searched by the bomb disposal squad and declared clear.
Similarly, an IED planted inside the house of PPP MPA Haji Hayat Talpur in the Digri Town area of Mirpurkhas was defused after the watchman found it early Tuesday morning and informed the police.
The explosives weighed around 800 grams, the police said.
It was found along the inner wall of the house where Mr Talpur used to perform ablutions every morning. There were marks on the wall indicating that the terrorists scaled it to do their job.
A pamphlet published by the Sindhudesh Liberation Army was also found in the house.