KARACHI: The deaths of an activist of a banned outfit, a Rangers official and a doctor on Thursday pushed the death toll of the recent spate of target killings to 21.
Muhammad Owais, 32, was standing outside his house in North Karachi when unidentified armed men approached him in a car, shot him dead and escaped.
Owais sustained five bullet wounds and was the taken to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital where doctors pronounced him dead early Thursday morning. The victim was a motorcycle mechanic by profession and while sources claimed that Owais was an active member of the banned Jaish-e-Mohammad, the police declined to comment on this allegation.
This was the first incident of target killings over the past 24 hours, and was followed by the murder of a naib soobedar of the Pakistan Rangers, who was also attacked early Thursday morning.
Sohail Abbas, 38, was deployed at the Rangers’ headquarters at Jinnah Courts and was on his way to visit his in-laws at their house near Azeem Plaza when three unidentified men on motorcycles shot him in the head on Baghe Halar road, within the limits of the Garden police station. He died on the spot and was taken to the Civil Hospital Karachi (CHK) for medico-legal formalities. Abbas hailed from Chakwal and had been working at his current deployment for the past 10 years.
He was shot from a distance of less than eights metres, doctors at CHK said, adding that the civil servant was plain clothed at the time he was shot dead.
Owais is the first Rangers official to be targeted in the recent spate of killings. He, however, is the third law enforcement official to have been targeted in the past three days, following the deaths of an assistant jailer and an ASI.
Later in the day, 50-year-old Dr Zahid Hussain was attacked and killed by unidentified men on motorcycles as soon as he stepped out of the al Masiha Medical Centre (AMMC) in Landhi, near the Chiragh hotel. The body was taken to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) for legal formalities and was later handed over to the family.
Hussain was a father of four children and a resident of Landhi. He was also the seventh doctor to be targeted in the recent killings.
Eyewitnesses claimed that the incident took place when Hussain left the clinic after a day’s work and got into his car to return home.
Police officials claimed that they were unaware of the facts regarding the murder. Landhi SHO Enayatullah told The Express Tribune that the police were looking for eyewitnesses who could guide the police in their investigations. He claimed, however, that Hussain did not belong to the Shia community, as was suspected.
“He was Sunni. The assailants may have killed him on the assumption that he was Shia because of his name, which is very common among Shias,” SHO Enayatullah said.
Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) called a meeting of its executive council on Thursday and condemned the killing.
“A plan of action will be evolved on Saturday,” said Dr Amir Raza, the general secretary of the PMA Karachi, who added that Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah had earlier assured him that the people behind the murder of doctors will be arrested. He demanded that those assurances be made good with immediate effect.
The ongoing murder incidents also evoked responses from Sindh Home Minister Zulfiqar Mirza as well as CCPO Waseem Ahmed regarding an operation against criminals and banned organisations.
Awami National Party general secretary Muhammad Amin Khattak said that all evidence regarding the targeted killings points towards involvement of a coalition partner.
“We only stopped blaming them directly on Rehman Malik’s request. Malik promised that he will complete investigations within 15 days and then it will become clear who is behind these incidents,” said Khattak, who added that the government must conduct an inquiry into all killings since May 12 to identify “the real culprit”.
Published in the Express Tribune, June 18th, 2010.
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