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Principal shot dead in attack on school

March 31, 2013

KARACHI, March 30: A grenade-and-gun attack on a school in Karachi’s Baldia Town on Saturday killed its headmaster and left at least 10 people injured.

Among the injured were children who had come to receive their results after the annual examination. Police described the incident as the first assault of its kind in the urban settlement.

The dead headmaster and owner of the school, 47-year-old Abdul Rasheed, was the Awami National Party’s vice president in the city’s District West.

According to police officials, the political affiliation of Abdul Rasheed was the most probable motive behind the attack.Leaders and workers of the ANP have come under attack frequently in Karachi’s western district over the past few months.

Police were, however, not sure about the identity of elements behind the deadly attack carried out by “five or six” armed men in a predominantly Pakhtun neighbourhood, but they did not rule out the involvement of militants.

The assault on the school came just one day after the Supreme Court ordered law enforcement agencies to eliminate all no-go areas in Karachi by April 4 — the date when the court is to resume hearings in this city on the law and order situation.

The apex court asked Karachi police to either accept or reject a newspaper report that pinpointed neighbourhoods which were no-go areas.

“An annual function was in progress at the Nation Secondary School in Rahmania Muhallah when a deafening explosion shook the building,” said a police official.

According to him, the explosion was caused by a grenade laced with ball bearing and packed into a tennis ball. Two armed men forced their way into the school soon after the blast, firing a volley of shots.

The bullets hit Abdul Rasheed, 53-year-old Mian Syed, chief guest at the function; 50-year-old Gul Sher Ali, a staffer; and three girl students — Saira Nazeer, 10; Amna Kareem, eight; and Atya Rasheed, 12.

A stampede followed, putting two other girls on the injury list.

All of the injured were taken to the Civil Hospital.

Although the ANP deplored the killing, it refrained from blaming any particular group for it.

Bashir Jan, general secretary of the party’s Sindh chapter, called upon the government to arrest the killers. “We are consistently losing our workers and leaders. We keep hearing about operations and arrest of criminals, but see no change on the ground. This latest attack on a worker of our party testifies to the failure of law enforcement agencies.”

After sunset, police cordoned off the neighbouring Frontier Colony, seizing weapons and rounding up six suspects.An officials said the operation was carried out on the basis of intelligence reports the presence there of some suspects involved in the headmaster’s murder.

“We have seized two submachine guns, five TT pistols, an M-15 rifle and three hand-grenades,” he added.