KARACHI: As the city observed a day of mourning for people killed in Thursday’s bomb blast near an MQM election office in North Nazimabad’s Nusrat Bhutto Colony area, Karachi was aggrieved by a gruesome militant attack on the street corner meeting of a candidate of another liberal democratic party, the ANP, on Friday evening.
This was the third militant attack in four days as the militants appeared determined to keep the MQM, ANP and PPP out of the electoral process, possibly encouraged by the reluctance of two mainstream parties actively engaged in electioneering in Punjab to condemn the wave of terror attacks in three other provinces.
At least 11 people were killed and over 50 others injured when a bomb blast hit the election meeting of Awami National Party (ANP) candidate Bashir Jan in Orangi Town.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.
Earlier in the day, Abdul Rehman Khan, another ANP candidate contesting for the NA-255 seat, survived an attack when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle in Landhi area.
Bashir Jan, the ANP general secretary for Sindh survived the attack as he was inside his car at the time of the attack.
“I was sitting in my car when the explosion took place. The car was thrown up a few feet in the air because of the impact of the blast,” Mr Jan said.
This was the third attempt on his life. Earlier, he had been fired upon near Hasan Square and he was wounded when an IED exploded near his car in the Frontier Colony area last year.
“A street corner meeting was supposed to be held in a small ground surrounded by walls. The blast took place when Bashir Jan was approaching the venue in his car through a narrow street,” SSP district west Asif Ajaz Shaikh told Dawn.
Although police had not been formally informed about the meeting in advance, a police mobile with a few personnel had been deputed at a distance from the venue at the request of the organisers, he said.
“Preliminary findings suggest that Bashir Jan was the target of the attack. Because a large number of people were there he could not be targeted,” SSP of CID’s counter-terrorism unit Raja Umar Khattab told Dawn.
He said the explosives weighing about 10kgs had been placed in a rickshaw.
The brunt of the attack was borne by three vehicles parked in the street and some shops. Debris started falling on the narrow lane after the blast.
The windscreen of Bashir Jan’s vehicle was damaged, he said.
The bodies and the injured were taken to different hospitals. The Civil Hospital received six bodies, Abbasi Shaheed Hospital three and Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre one. One of the critically injured died in Civil Hospital.
Speaking to Dawn.com on phone from an undisclosed location, Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan said the TTP had carried out the attack on the ANP election meeting because of their secular politics.
Talking to a private news channel, ANP chief Asfandyar Wali condemned the attack and said his party would not bow down to the terrorists who were targeting political workers.
“People know who are behind these barbaric acts; they want to force us out of the election process,” he said, but made it clear that the ANP would not boycott the May 11 elections.
The Muttahida Quami Movement chief also condemned the attack.
DAY OF MOURNING: The ANP announced a peaceful day of mourning on Saturday. The party leader Senator Shahi Syed appealed to the people, traders and transporters to observe mourning but not to shut their businesses.