Five people have been injured in a grenade attack in the Sakhi Hassan area of Karachi on Wednesday.
Two unidentified men on a motorbike hurled a hand grenade inside Jamia Shamsul Ulum Suroor. The attack took place when people had gathered at the mosque for Isha prayers.
Those injured include the Imam-e-Masjid.
Earlier, four bodies were recovered from various localities of Orangi Town in Karachi, while one person was shot dead and three others were injured in firing incidents in the Kharadar area.
The death toll in the wake of Karachi violence now stands at 73 and 130 have been injured.
Most of Karachi continues to remain shut for the second consecutive day, but some petrol stations have started reopening along Shahra-e-Faisal.
The MQM has demanded a high-level inquiry into Raza Haider’s murder and has put the blame for the killing on Awami National Party.
Twenty arrests have been made in connection with the killings.
The CID has also arrested three suspects with explosives who are said to have links with banned militant outfits.
Updated from print edition (below)
Karachi grinds to a halt as death toll crosses 55
The violence that erupted in the city after the assassination of Raza Haider, a provincial legislator from the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), continued for a second successive day on Tuesday with the 24-hour death toll reaching a staggering 55 – up from the overnight figure of 32.
There was some headway in investigations into the assassination, as the police say they have rounded up some suspects. However, there was little law-enforcers could do to quell the backlash or assuage the fear, despite their heavy presence, who managed a large number of arrests in connection with the rioting.
The city wore a deserted look on the first day of a three-day mourning period announced by the MQM. The black day was one of the most potent in recent memory in Karachi, where businesses and traffic usually return to normalcy as the evening approaches. This was not the case on Tuesday, reflecting the sort of tension the city found itself in the midst of.
It was curfew-like: Public and private transport largely stayed off the roads, while petrol stations as well as markets remained shut, save a few small areas of the metropolis.
The number of gun-shot victims across the city surpassed 140. Tuesday’s deaths were reported from Orangi Town, Baldia, Katti Pahari, Korangi, Peerabad and Nazimabad. The bodies were brought to the Civil, Jinnah and Abbasi Shaheed hospitals.
Doctor Seemi Jamali, in charge of the JPMC Emergency and Accident Department, said that 15 bodies were brought to the hospital, whereas the number of injured crossed the 50 mark. According to Sarwat Channa, an official at Civil Hospital Karachi 16 bodies were received at the hospital. Thirteen bodies have been received at the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, according to MLO Dr Sheeraz. Three bodies were received at the Qatar Hospital and one reached at Korangi Police Hospital (KPH).
Emotions ran high during the funeral prayers of slain Raza Haider and his guard, Khalid Khan, which were performed in Azizabad. The actual plan was to move the body from Jinnah Ground to Tauheed Colony via Katti Pahari – however, due to security concerns, the route was changed and the body was taken to Tauheed Colony via Altaf Nagar.
Almost all the MQM high-ups were present on the occasion. Angry activists of the MQM raised slogans against the Awami National Party (ANP) Sindh chief Shahi Syed on the occasion.
Meanwhile, investigations into the assassination picked up pace. The police rounded up about 20 suspects from Orangi Town in relation to the assassination.
Though it is being said that the suspects are activists of the banned Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), the banned organisation denies that any of its people have been picked up, instead pointing towards another proscribed group, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ).
“We have some hints and grounds on the basis of which we have arrested them, and are now interrogating them,” said city police chief Waseem Ahmed while speaking to The Express Tribune.
He added that all of them were under investigation and the details of the interrogation would be made public only after the probe was completed. He said that releasing the names or other details of those arrested could affect the inquiry.
On the other hand Ahle-Sunnat Wal Jammat (ASWJ), the new organisational name of the proscribed SSP, has denied its involvement in the incident.
“Rehman Malik mentioned the name of Shakil Burmi to the media. Let the records be straight: Shakeel is a member of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, not of Sipah-e-Sahaba,” Qari Ihsanullah, spokesperson for the ASWJ, told The Express Tribune.
According to him, so far no activists of the ASWJ have been arrested. “According to our information, some members of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi have been arrested,” he went on to say.
However, Ihsanullah said that his party will volunteer in case the police wanted to interrogate some of its members. ASWJ had denied involvement in the murder almost instantly on Monday.
Though the ASWJ is pointing towards the LeJ, the history of the two organisations is intertwined. ASWJ was previously known as Sipah-e-Sahaba, an extremist Sunni-Deobandi militant outfit – of which the LeJ is an offshoot.
The LeJ was formed by the extremist breakaways in the SSP, after some of its members felt that the organistation was deviating from the philosophy of its founder Ahmed Nawaz Jhang. LeJ derives its name from Jhang and was formed by notorious extremist leaders Riaz Basra and Akram Lahori. It was banned in 2001.
Since then, LeJ members have been involved in a number of attacks on members of the Shia sect. The city police also accused LeJ of perpetrating the Ashura blast in Karachi, which killed more than 40 people.
The black day was also observed in many other urban centres of Sindh.
NOTE: In Monday’s story, ‘Chaos in Karachi following MQM MPA’s murder’, it was mistakenly reported that the slain Raza Haider was shot in an imam bargah. He was, in fact, shot in Jamia Masjid Aqsa. Furthermore, the MPA was shot six times, as opposed to 18 times. The errors are regretted.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 4th, 2010.
More in PakistanWikileaks and the ISI