After failing to get him at his office, they targeted his home.
A senior police officer, infamous for his tough measures against notorious criminal elements, survived yet another suicide blast – this time at his residence – early Monday morning in Karachi. While the high-intensity assassination attempt was unable to take the life of the officer, it resulted in the deaths of eight others – including a schoolteacher and her son.
In a display of alarmingly desperate determination, militants, who have borne the brunt of Superintendent of Police (SSP) Crime Investigation Department (CID) Chaudhry Aslam Khan’s efforts as of late, sent a double-cabin vehicle carrying 300 kilogrammes of explosives hurtling into the officer’s residence in the upscale Defence Housing Authority Phase VIII – an area that also houses a number of schools.
Having suffered intense infrastructural damage, the schools have been closed until their buildings are repaired.
Khan’s family is reported safe, while those dead include his police guards, his cook, and the son and driver of a neighbour. The blast created an 8X6-foot-deep crater and left a significant portion of the targeted house’s front facade, and that of neighbouring houses, in a pile of rubble.
“We claim responsibility for the attack. Aslam Khan has killed a number of our colleagues and also arrested and tortured many more,” TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told AFP in a phone call from an undisclosed location.
“He was on our hit list and he is still on our hit list,” Ehsan said, giving names of several other police and crime investigation department officials also targeted. “They will be killed soon,” he vowed.
Additional Inspector-General Saud Mirza cautioned that it was too early to say exactly which group is involved in the attack. “SSP Khan is a prominent officer in the fight against militants and his name appears in a recent Taliban hit list,” he added.
Even Aslam himself kept the scope of investigations open. “As of now, we believe that the TTP is behind the attack, but we are in the preliminary stages and other collaborating groups could be involved,” he told The Express Tribune. “There are many subgroups within the TTP, such as the al Mukhtar group.” CID officials are fairly certain that the group led by Hakimullah Mehsud is directly involved in the attack, but are considering other groups such as the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.
However, there is consensus that the same group that had attacked the CID operational base in Civil Lines, Karachi, in November 2010, is involved in this attack.
Officials say that Khan’s life was always under threat by extremists, particularly those from the TTP.
“Every month, there’s a new high alert for the CID and Khan almost always gets a mention,” an official said, requesting anonymity.
In fact, just a couple of months ago, the TTP had sent a DVD to media houses showing preparations of the November 2010 CID attack. The list of targets mentioned in the video included Khan.
But the man with a thousand enemies refused to be cowed. “Why don’t they come attack me in the open? I didn’t know these terrorists are such cowards that they will attack sleeping children,” visibly furious SSP Khan told reporters. “I will teach their generations a lesson,” the officer, who courageously went to work, vowed.
Inspector-General of Sindh police Wajid Ali Durrani said intelligence reports had warned of an imminent militant attack, as a result of which the Sindh police had assessed other installations – but did not expect Khan’s house to be targeted.
Two closed-circuit TV cameras were fitted on a pole outside Khan’s house. However, the system they were attached to was damaged in the blast, creating a bottleneck in the probe into the attack.
A case has been filed against the attackers at the Darakhshan Police Station and Khan has registered himself as the complainant. However, despite the TTP’s claim of responsibility the FIR does not name any particular terrorist organisation and only refers to a ‘banned organisation’.
For A, who works in one of Karachi’s most volatile PIDC area, blasts are nothing new but this one happened in the safety of his home and shook him to the core. “I was ironing my clothes to get ready for work when I heard the blast. The impact was so severe I flew back and landed on broken glass on the floor,” A said, showing his bruised arms. “At first I thought it was an earthquake.”
MH, who lives at a stone’s throw from the blast site, said the loud sound of the blast woke her up from deep sleep. “I knew there had been a blast nearby and it seemed as if my backyard had been attacked,” she said.
For pictures from the blast site, view slideshow here
Published in The Express Tribune, September 20th, 2011.