- Sindh Rangers say attack on MQM’s Khawaja Izhar ‘conspiracy’ to discredit police, LEAs
KARACHI: Eight terrorists were gunned down in an operation conducted by Rangers and Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) personnel Saturday night in Raees Goth area of Karachi’s Baldia Town.
The joint encounter was carried out on the basis of technical intelligence and evidence after receiving a tip-off about the presence of Ansarul Sharia Pakistan (ASP) terrorists in the area.
Two of the terrorists identified as the ASP chief Sheheryar, alias Dr Abdullah Hashmi—who was also named as the mastermind of all ASP attacks.
Another terrorist was identified by the Rangers as Arsalan Baig—a member of the ASP’s target-killing team.
In addition, one CTD officer and two Rangers personnel were wounded during the exchange of fire.
Later in the day, Sindh Rangers and CTD held a joint conference and confirmed that Dr Abdullah Hashmi, in fact, had been killed in the operation.
Rangers official Faisal Arif further said that the raids were underway to find the four absconding terrorists, who fled the site of the operation on Saturday night.
Speaking about the assassination attempt on MQM’s Khawaja Izharul Hassan, the Rangers official said that the attackers had tried to show that the police or the government was involved in the attack on the MQM leader,” and termed the attack a “grave conspiracy to discredit the police and law enforcement agencies”.
Arif, while briefing the media, shared footage of the September 3 attack on Khawaja Izharul Hassan, which took place in Karachi’s Buffer Zone area, and said that after the attack, intelligence-based operations were conducted.
In the footage that was shown, Col Faisal said that one of the attackers was seen wearing a police uniform while the other Sarosh was seen wearing a T-shirt. He said that at the time of the attack, police were performing their duty at a nearby imambargah and had run out after they heard the firing.
“The policemen were running on foot to catch the attackers,” Col Faisal said, adding that it was discovered that three of the attackers belonged to Ansarul Shariah Pakistan (ASP).
He said that various intelligence information and evidence regarding the ASP came forward after the incident.
Opposition Leader in the Sindh Assembly Khawaja Izharul Hassan had escaped unharmed in the attack that took place on the first day of Eidul Azha. However, four others were injured in the incident.
Col Faisal apprised the media that the ASP is a small group of about 12-15 members, six to eight of whom are members of its target killing team. The remaining members provide backup support and funding.
The Rangers official said all the terrorists were educated in institutions in Karachi and went on to receive terrorism training in an al-Qaeda camp in Afghanistan, adding that they were “ideologically linked to the al-Qaeda”.
In addition to targeting law enforcement officials, the group was involved in radicalising the youth and had drawn up a plan to do so.
The Rangers official revealed that people close to the militants had been interrogated and that it had become clear that none of their family members knew they were involved in such activities.
According to various local media reports, Dr Abdullah Hashmi had been arrested during a raid in September.
Sindh Chief Minister Murad Shah had claimed the arrests of high-profile militants in raids at the time, hinting at a “breakthrough”.
Although both Shah and law enforcement remained quiet about the details of the arrests, various TV channels had reported the arrest of ASP chief Dr Abdullah Hashmi in a raid on his house in Kaneez Fatima Housing Society.
Though the police had neither confirmed nor denied the news reports on TV channels about Hashmi’s arrest, SSP Malir Rao Anwar had made a few claims lending strength to the reports of such a “success”.
The militant group comprising hardly 10 fighters had been busted with almost all its members taken into custody for interrogation.
Sindh Rangers Director General Maj Gen Muhammad Saeed, however, had denied the reports of the arrests at the time.
The group has claimed responsibility for the target killings of security personnel, as well as an attack on Muttahida Quami Movement leader Khwaja Izharul Hassan.
In Karachi, their activities were noticed for the first time in April when they claimed the responsibility for killing a retired colonel in the Baloch Colony area, but the ASP had been active before when its members had gunned down a guard of Police Foundation in an attack in Gulistan-i-Jauhar in February this year.
Apart from the four terror acts—killing of the security guard in Gulistan-i-Jauhar, retired army officer in the Baloch Colony area, the murder of four policemen in Karachi’s SITE area, and an assassination attempt on the life of the MQM leader—the officials also claimed that the ASP was involved in four other incidents.
These included targeted killing of two policemen within the limits of the New Town police, the murder of a DSP Traffic and his constable driver in Azizabad, a Police Qaumi Razakar on the Northern Bypass and two employees of the Federal Board of Revenue in Gulistan-i-Jauhar, who were targeted over suspicions of being policemen as the victims wore uniforms resembling police uniform.