KARACHI: Asif alias Munna, the main suspect in a futile attack on the Saudi Consulate back in May, was killed in an encounter as he tried to evade arrest on Sunday. His three companions are in police custody.
Police said the encounter ensued near Rabiya City in Gulistan-e-Jauhar when they raided the area with the help of Asif’s companions, Zaki alias Kamran, Mohsin and Mohammad Ali Kazmi. They were arrested from the Eidgah area the same day.
Crime Branch officials said that the suspects were with the banned outfit, Mehdi Force. They confessed to being involved in sectarian violence during interrogation. Their two biggest transgressions, however, were an attack on a mosque at Sakhi Hassan in 2010 and when they threw two hand grenades at the Saudi consulate building on May 11. While no one was hurt at the consulate, five people were injured at the mosque.
“Zaki and Asif were involved in an attack on the Saudi consulate,” said SSP Farooq. “We got Zaki to phone Asif and tell him to come to Gulistan-e-Jauhar, however, Asif opened fire when he saw the police.”
SSP Awan said that Asif was shot in the abdomen when the police retaliated, and he bled out at Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre.
When asked, SSP Awan said that there was no immediate link apparent between the murder of a Saudi diplomat in the Defence area a few days after the attack on the consulate. The suspects did not confess to the killing but they are still being questioned for any possible leads.
In their confessions, Asif and Zaki claimed to have attacked the Saudi Consulate in revenge after the Saudi government helped the Bahrain government. “Saudi Arabia sent their army to help the Sunni Bahraini government act against Bahrain’s Shia community we attacked the consulate in retaliation,” said SSP Awan quoting Zaki’s statement. Asif was driving the motorcycle while Zaki hurled the hand grenades.
An identity card claiming Asif was named Tabish Tehseen was found on his body. The police are trying to find out what his real name was as he was apparently using a fake CNIC. Three TT pistols and a rifle were also recovered from their possession.
Earlier this year in January, the Karachi police’s Special Investigation Unit arrested eight people who worked with these four suspects and recovered a huge cache of weapons. The eight men arrested initially were said to be hardcore militants of the Mehdi Force. The accused included the group’s mastermind, Tanvir Abbas.
They were accused of being involved in at least a dozen sectarian target killings, including the murder of three doctors. The group targeted sympathisers and members of the banned Sipah-e-Sahaba, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Jesh-e-Mohammad. Their attacks always prompted a strong backlash from the groups they targeted.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 21st, 2011.