Gun attack on Karachi majlis leaves 5 dead

Police found at least 13 empty shells of a pistol used in the attack


Faraz Khan October 30, 2016
Security officials collect evidences from the site of firing in Nazimabad No 4 on October 29, 2016. PHOTO: ONLINE

KARACHI: Five people were killed and half a dozen others wounded in a brazen gun attack apparently motivated by sectarian hatred in a residential neighbourhood of the metropolis on Saturday evening.

Gunmen riding a motorcycle opened random fire on members of the Shia community attending a Muharram majlis at a house in Nazimabad No 4 at a stone’s throw from the local police station.

The casualties were ferried to the Aga Khan University Hospital and Abbasi Shaheed Hospital where medics said two of the injured were being treated for possible life-threatening wounds. “Four people were brought dead while a fifth died during the course of treatment,” a hospital source added.

Witnesses said two motorcyclists carried out the attack.

“They were young men dressed in pants and shirts.
One of them was wearing a helmet,” witness Asad Ali told The Express Tribune. “One of them got down, while the other remained seated,” he added. “They opened fire on the people sitting outside the house where the majlis was under way.”

Another witness said the gunmen wanted to kill as many people as they could. “The gunmen also forced their way into the house, but some community members put up resistance while they were reloading their guns,” Nasir Zaidi added. “In the ensuing scuffle, the magazine and pistol of one of the gunmen fell on the ground.”

Though the attacker became briefly weaponless, he remained undeterred, recalled a third witness Safdar Abbas. “The second gunman who was still seated on his two-wheeler called him back,” he added. “If we had not put up resistance, he would have got in and killed more people.”

The deadly attack angered the community members who staged a protest in the neighbourhood. They criticised the government and law enforcement agencies for their failure to provide security to their community.

“We [Shias] are being killed on a daily basis but members of the proscribed sectarian extremist groups are roaming around freely,” said Faizul Hassan, an irate protester.

Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah condemned the deadly attack and directed the provincial police chief to arrest the attackers asap.

Rangers Director General Maj Gen Bilal Akbar visited the crime scene and assured the community of his full support. “I promise we will not leave masterminds and facilitators of such attacks,” he said.

AIG Karachi Mushtaq Maher announced a two-million-rupee reward for information leading to the arrest of the attackers. “Some factions of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi are behind a series of recent attacks,” said Maher while talking to the media at the crime scene. “We are trying to draw sketches of the attackers with the help of eyewitness accounts. They will be behind the bars soon.”

Police officials believe the same group is behind the series of attacks. “The group is hit soft targets as it has failed to carry out major attacks,” said SSP Nasir Aftab. “It is very easy for sectarian terrorists to target majalis at homes and mourners travelling towards majalis or returning home.”

Police found at least 13 empty shells of a pistol used in the attack. A loaded magazine dropped by one of the gunmen was also taken into custody.

Shia organisations, including Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimeen, staged protests against the attack on MA Jinnah Road and Sharae Pakistan.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 30th, 2016.

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