KARACHI: As the death toll continues to climb in a police operation in the densely-populated Lyari neighbourhood of Karachi, gangsters regained control of areas which the police claimed to have cleared on Saturday.
On Sunday, police had to pull back from the Nawa Lane and Afshani Gali areas after day-long fierce battles with gangsters who used heavy weapons, including rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), hand grenades and the locally-made ‘Awan’.
Four people – among them a police constable and gangster – were killed in fresh fighting. The two other fatalities were those of an ice vendor and a passerby who were caught in the crossfire.
The dead gangster was identified as Sajid, alias Gabbar, the brother-in-law of Baba Ladla whose group is the target of the ongoing police
operation. Another 28 people were wounded including two police officials – Deputy Superintendents of Police Abdul Razzak and Nawaz – and ExpressNews cameraman Arif Ali.
According to an unofficial count, 40 people have been killed since April 2 when police moved into the maze of Lyrai’s streets to hunt down criminals and gangsters active there.
Provincial police chief Mushtaq Shah said that they would call out the paramilitary Rangers, if the need arose.
The road between the Cheel Chowk and Ghas Mandi Chowk areas is crowded with police vans, armoured personnel carriers (APCs), trucks and media persons. Around 1,500 policemen are taking part in the operation.
Gangsters have destroyed almost all pickets and checkpoints set up by police in the streets of Lyari.
Meanwhile, three FIRs were registered on Sunday in different police stations for Saturday’s attack on the house of PPP leader Nabeel Gabol, killing of SHO Fawad Khan and attacks on police officials. The leadership of banned Peoples Amn Committee (PAC) and Lyari gangsters were nominated in the FIRs.
Meanwhile, SHO Fawad Khan, who belonged to Chamkani, a suburban area of Peshawar, was laid to rest in his hometown on Sunday.
The body of Khan, who died on Saturday while fighting gangsters in Lyari, was flown to Peshawar on Sunday. Hundreds of people attended the last rites of the fallen police official.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 30th, 2012.