KARACHI, Oct 31: Three workers of the Awami National Party (ANP) were killed and four activists were wounded in a gun attack carried out by some half a dozen armed men riding motorbikes on its party office in Landhi on Wednesday, police and party sources said.

The officials said that about six men riding three motorbikes pulled up outside the ANP ward office in UC-3 of Landhi’s Sherpao Colony within the remit of the Quaidabad police station. Three of them got off the two-wheelers, pulled out 9mm pistols and fired multiple shots at the ANP workers sitting in and outside the office.

“The firing was so intense that it terrorised area people and caused panic in the thickly-populated neighbourhood,” said an official at the Quaidabad police station. “The main victims were those activists who were sitting in chairs outside the office as a matter of routine. The attackers sped away in a flash after firing multiple rounds.”

As the guns fell silent, residents and the party workers who escaped the attack rescued the wounded and put them into cars and ambulances to race them to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC). Out of the total seven wounded victims, three workers, including the party’s area leader, died one after another at the hospital.

“The deceased have been identified as activist in charge of ANP ward Saleem Khan, Abid Hazarwai and Mohammad Sajid,” said the official. “The wounded included Fahim Bangash, Niaz Khan Yousufzai, Arif Khan and Abdul Razzaq. The wounded activist, Niaz Khan, is also coordinator to the ANP lawmaker in the Sindh Assembly Amanullah Mehsood,” the police said.

The police authorities suspected ‘political reasons’ for the deadly attack that also attracted serious criticism from the leadership of the ANP, which parted ways with the Pakistan People’s Party-led coalition government only last month while keeping the ruling partnership intact at the centre and in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

“It was definitely a targeted attack,” said DIG (east) Shahid Hayat. “Initially it seems politically motivated but investigations are at their early stage. We are collecting information. Police patrol and deployment in the affected area and other volatile localities have been increased to prevent violence.”

Losing workers and area leaders consistently in random attacks in different parts of the city, the ANP sounded worried and angry while blaming the ‘security administration’ and the ‘coalition government’ for failing to protect lives of political workers.

“Political activism in Karachi is being targeted months before general elections,” said an ANP spokesman commenting on the attack on the Landhi office. “It’s sheer terrorism, which puts a question mark over the performance of the democratic set-up and the law-enforcement agencies. The party condemns every form of terrorism,” he added.