Two policemen have been suspended for their alleged 'links' with gamblers who run the club attacked in Lyari on Thursday.
In the aftermath of the blast, the police authorities have suspended two officers - Eidgah DSP Ghulam Hussain Korai and Napier SHO Nawaz Gondal — for negligence. Karachi CCPO Saud Mirza told The Express Tribune that these officers have been suspended over the suspicion that they were running the club. He said that more law enforcers will be suspended if their involvement is proven.
Meanwhile, three more people who were injured in the bomb blast succumbed to their injuries on Friday. The victims — Atif, Ameer Buksh and Qamaruddin — died during treatment and brought the death toll to 18.
Two men who died on Thursday were identified as Kamran and Imran by their families. At least four bodies at the Edhi morgue in Sohrab Goth have yet to be identified.
The remote-controlled bomb, in which one-and-a-half kilogrammes of explosive material was used, went off inside a gambling den, called 'The Birch Club' in the locality known as Jinnahabad Lyari Quarters. The area is also popularly known as 'Ghas Mandi'.
A case, FIR No. 34/11, against unidentified men has also been registered at Napier police station. The FIR was registered under sections seven of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 3/4 of the Explosives Act, and 302 and 324 of the Pakistan Penal Code. Mirza said that the police have also obtained footage from the CCTV cameras.
The Counter Terrorism Unit of the Federal Investigation Agency also inspected the bombing site and collected evidence. The experts said that an IED device was used in the explosion. The number of casualties increased due to the presence of ball bearings and because the den was located in a congested area.
The investigators are, however, clueless about the actual motive behind the bombing. They said that they are investigating the case from different aspects and will take some time until they arrive at a conclusion. "We are investigating the case from four aspects - Lyari's prominent gangster group Ghaffar Zikri, Sindhi and Baloch nationalist parties and jihadi elements," said a police officer on the condition of anonymity.
Target killings of gamblers
It may be noted that the gamblers in Karachi were being targeted since last year. A bookie, Junaid Memon, and his young son were gunned down in Hussainabad in 2010 while another bookie, Gulfam, was also shot dead in the same area. Bookie Asif Boot was gunned down in Liaquatabad and another prominent bookie, Ishtiaq alias Ganja, was killed in Defence in April this year.
During Ramazan, a police head constable, Waseem, partner of Aijaz Memon who runs The Birch Club, came under attack when unidentified men sprayed his car with bullets on Jamshed Road. Waseem and his son survived the attack but his wife died.
CCPO Mirza admitted that Waseem was suspended earlier due to his alleged 'links' with the gamblers. He added, however, that he was not sure if Waseem was reinstated. An officer told The Express Tribune that, "there might be a single group on a silent mission against gamblers and bookies".
Explaining the background of the gambling business, the officer recalled that ever since the mysterious death of underworld don Shoaib Khan in Karachi Central Jail, Memon and his partners took over all the gambling activities in the city. This caused severe losses to many bookies.
"We will have to check the identities of all the people who were facing losses under this new set-up and who benefitted from this bombing," the officer said. Special Investigations Unit chief SSP Umer Khattab dismissed the links between the target killings of bookies and the bombing. "Target killing is a separate issue," he said. "The gangsters, including Arshad Pappu's brothers, Ghaffar Zikri and Amjad Lashari do not have ability to carry out such bombings."
Another police officer reasoned that the culprits may have joined hands with a terrorist organisation to develop the bomb. "May be some Baloch and Sindhi nationalist parties or a jihadi organisation provided bombs to them," he said. Khattab told The Express Tribune, "We cannot rule out the possibility of an internal dispute or jihadi elements."
The Crime Investigation Department's Counter Terrorism Unit recently arrested four members of the Zikri group near Civil Hospital, Karachi. "We monitored these gangsters' movements in Ghas Mandi and its surrounding areas," said SSP Chaudhry Aslam Khan. "We are also questioning these suspects and some more men," he added. "We have some evidence but we cannot disclose or share anything with the media right now."
CID Operations SSP Fayyaz Khan said there are lots of possibilities. "I am not sure because the investigation is under way but, in my opinion, any terror outfit could be behind the attack," he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 23rd, 2011.
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