A judicial tribunal started its formal investigation into the gunning down of five Chechens by police and Frontier Corps (FC) personnel on May 17. Pakistani officials had declared that the deceased were carrying Russian passports.
The tribunal recorded the statements of four out of 18 registered eyewitnesses. Mufti Abdul Wahid, a resident of the Kheli Khazi area, told the tribunal that he was walking behind the foreigners when he was stopped by the police. “I could not hear what the policemen were saying but their hand gestures showed that they were asking the foreigners to move towards the FC check post on the main highway in Kharotabad,” he said.
Wahid added, “Suddenly I heard a gunshot and one of the foreigners fell down. His companions, including three women and a man, started crying and sat down.”
Wahid explained that an armoured police vehicle reached the site and there was a huge explosion. He said, “Later on, more police and FC personnel reached the site and started indiscriminate firing on the five foreigners.”
Photojournalist Jamal Tarkai produced video footage of the incident which showed a woman raising her hand thrice, presumably as an act of surrender. Tarkai’s footage also shows the Quetta police chief stopping a policeman from firing while FC Colonel Faisal Shahzad is continuously shooting at the foreigners.
A third eyewitness, Qaseem Subani said the foreigners were walking towards the checkpost when the police opened fire.
Meanwhile, two diplomats from the Russian Consulate in Karachi visited the Bolan Medical Complex (BMC) on Tuesday to identify the bodies. One of the diplomats told reporters at the BMC that the Russian government will not say if the five were terrorists until the judicial tribunal concludes its inquiry. He said, “It seems four of the dead bodies are of Russian nationals. But I cannot officially announce that they were Russian because we have just come here to identify them and take their photographs.”
Published in The Express Tribune, June 1st, 2011.