Police foil major terrorist activity ahead of NYE

Over 50 suspects detained, explosives recovered


Hafeez Tunio/raheel Salman December 31, 2018

KARACHI: Police on Sunday claimed to have foiled a major terrorist activity allegedly planned for New Year's Eve by seizing a motorcycle loaded with explosive materials and hand grenades. Since Saturday night, over 50 suspects have been detained with regards to this operation. What started as a tip-off about the supposed presence of drug peddlers at Old Sabzi Mandi turned into a major operation over-night.

The tip-off

At 12.00am on Sunday (Saturday night), PIB Colony police reached Sekha Ground at Old Sabzi Mandi after receiving information about the presence of drug peddlers in the area. Before the police could carry out the raid, however, suspects threw a grenade at them and attempted to make a run for it. An exchange of gun fire between the police and the suspects ensued.

On receiving news of the incident, Gulshan-e-Iqbal SP Tahir Noorani reached the scene with additional police personnel. The police encircled the area and began a search operation. By late Saturday night, they had arrested seven suspects, recovered two hand grenades, and a stolen motorcycle loaded with explosive materials. A bottle filled with half a litre of petrol hung below its tank, and attached to the motorcycle were a detonator and a hand grenade.

CTD registers Quaidabad bomb blast case

Explosives defused
According to East Deputy Inspector-General Amir Farooqui the explosives, including a bomb connected to a mobile phone device, were found in the fuel tank of the motorcycle. A bomb disposal squad was summoned immediately and the explosives were defused on the spot. The explosives included nuts, bolts and nails and weighed roughly eight to 10 kilogrammes, said the East DIG.

Operation expands

By Sunday, over 50 suspects had been detained from the surrounding areas.

Farooqui informed that the police had received information of a terrorist activity planned for New Year's Eve. According to reports, this recovered motorcycle was to be brought to a crowded place. Reports of another motorcycle loaded with explosives also surfaced.

In light of this information, on Sunday morning, police personnel combed Sekha Ground and expanded the search operation to its surrounding areas, including PIB Colony, Old Sabzi Mandi, Karnal Basti, Bashtar Basti and Ghani Eleven Football Ground. The operation was headed by Gulshan-e-Iqbal SP Noorani. The counter terrorism department (CTD), and officials, including women, from all police stations of Gulshan-e-Iqbal division participated in this operation which lasted for over three hours.

The exit and entrance passages of the areas were sealed during the operation and door to door search began. Police took over 50 suspects, including owners of houses, in custody and brought them in for questioning.

According to Noorani, over 35 suspects were arrested from the same building and the vehicles parked in the grounds were also checked. He informed that the detained will be questioned about their tenancy papers and owners of the houses will also be questioned if the legal requirements of their tenants do not check out. Furthermore, Noorani said that the administration of three madrassas in the surrounding areas has been contacted to inquire about their funding and whether they are registered or not.

The case of the recovered motorcycle with explosives will be registered in Civil Lines CTD, said Noorani, adding that the statement of the SHO and the recovered items were being sent to CTD officials. The case of the theft of the motorcycle will be registered at PIB police station, he added further.

Terrorist links

The group which loaded the motorcycles with explosives appears to be linked to the Mufti Shakir Group which had been involved in the suicide attacks on senior police inspector Chaudhry Aslam and former Mauripur SHO Shafiq Tanoli. Both officials had been killed in the attacks. It is being investigated whether this group has been operating through connections from jail.

According to East SSP Captain (retd) Ghulam Azfar Mahaesar, the area from which the motorcycle was recovered had previously been a stronghold of the banned outfit. Tanoli had been killed in a suicide attack in the centre of Old Sabzi Mandi, he said.

Police suspects that the motorcycle was to be used for a terrorist attack in the city on Monday night.

The stolen motorcycle

When the number plate of the recovered motorcycle was investigated, the police found a match. It was reportedly stolen from PIB Colony on Saturday at 5pm from outside the house of its owner. An FIR had been registered at 8pm. Police traced its owner, Shad Muhammad, son of Umar Jan who is a resident of Nishter Basti near Sabzi Mandi.

Muhammad who works as a waiter at a private restaurant in Defence Housing Authority Phase 2, told The Express News that he had shifted to this house on rent around three months ago. He had previously been living near Kala Pul for the past nine years. Muhammad said that he had returned home from work and had parked his motorcycle outside the house. It was about two and a half hours later when he realised that the motorcycle was no longer there. He said he reached the police station at 7.30pm and by 8pm an FIR was registered. Muhammad claimed that the police informed him about the recovery of his motorcycle at 4am on Sunday and called him to the police station.

IG takes notice

Sindh Inspector-General of Police Dr Syed Kaleem Imam commended the performance of East DIG, East SSP, bomb disposal squad, police personnel and all other teams involved in the recovery of the motorcycle loaded with explosive materials. He lauded them for carrying out an effective search operation and responding swiftly as the events progressed. The bomb disposal squad was also appreciated for its technical expertise. The search operation team and the bomb disposal squad will each be awarded with complimentary certificates and a cash reward of Rs100,000, he announced.

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