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Five shot dead in Karachi ‘sectarian attack’

KARACHI: Five people, among them two brothers, were gunned down and as many others wounded in what police described as an armed attack on sectarian grounds in Karachi’s Nazimabad locality on Saturday. It was the fourth such assault in the city during Muharram.

Police said two assailants riding a motorbike stopped outside a house, located at a short distance from the Nazimabad police station and the area headquarters of the Sindh Rangers, where a Muharram majlis for women was being held inside.

They said that one of the attackers entered a tent put up for men outside the house, pulled out a pistol, fired indiscriminately and rode away, leaving the victims in a pool of blood.

The wounded were rushed to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital and the Aga Khan University Hospital.

“Four men were brought dead to the [Abbasi Shaheed] hospital,” said Additional Police Surgeon Dr Rohina Hasan. Doctors at the AKUH declared a man dead on arrival. Three of the wounded, including a teenage boy, were being treated at the health facility.

Dr Hasan said that two wounded women, who were initially treated at the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, were later shifted to another hospital.

DIG-West Zulfiqar Larik told Dawn that a total of 10 persons sustained bullet wounds and five of them died.

Nazimabad SHO Faizul Hasan told Dawn that two brothers were among the deceased.

Witnesses said that not a single police guard was deputed for the security of the majlis. However, the police claimed that they had no information about the event.

“The organisers did not inform the police about the majlis,” Sindh police chief A.D. Khowaja told reporters.

Investigators collected 13 spent bullet casings fired by 9mm pistol from the crime scene.

The Lashkar-i-Jhangvi al-Alami claimed responsibility for the attack, though investigators insisted that it was too early to say which group or outfit was involved.

Karachi police chief Mushtaq Mahar told Dawn that it appeared to be a sectarian attack. “A group of outlawed Lashkar-i-Jhangvi has been active in the city and the threat will persist until their arrest,” he added.

He said that the spent bullet casings had been sent to a laboratory for a forensic analysis to ascertain whether the same weapon had been used in earlier killings or not. “A cash reward of Rs2 million has also been announced for any person who provides information leading to the arrest of the killers.”

He said that the police decided to provide security to every majlis in the city.

The Majlis Wahdat-i-Muslimeen strongly condemned the attack and said that such incidents were the outcome of the “free hand” given to the banned outfits by the federal government, particularly the interior minister.

“This is a fourth such attack against the Shias and a third one targeting a majlis for women in Muharram,” said an MWM spokesperson. “This reflects the performance of the law enforcers and the provincial government.”

On Oct 17, a boy was killed and seven others were wounded when an improvised explosive device exploded during a majlis of women at the Imambargah Dar-i-Abbas in Liaquatabad. The IED was thrown by two pillion-riders.

On Oct 8, armed motorcyclists shot dead a man and wounded his cousin when they were standing outside a house in Gulshan-i-Iqbal, where a majlis of women was being held.

On the same day, assailants riding a motorbike killed a trustee of an Imambargah and wounded his son outside their Gulistan-i-Jauhar home as soon as they reached there after attending a majlis.

Crackdown ordered

Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah has directed the police authorities to launch a crackdown against those conspiring to ignite “sectarian unrest” in Karachi.

“I am sure our people are very well aware of the conspiracy under which terrorists want to create sectarian violence in the city where peace has returned with the collective efforts of the government and the people,” he said.

Later in the evening, he also visited the AKUH and announced that all expenses on the medical treatment of the wounded would be borne by the provincial government.

Published in Dawn, October 30th, 2016

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