KARACHI: In a major breakthrough on Monday, the Pakistan Rangers arrested eight suspects that they claimed were responsible for the fresh wave of terrorism in the city during past three months.
The suspects, alleged members of the target killing squad of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement - London (MQM-L), were arrested during raids from various parts of the city.
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During a press conference at Sindh Headquarters on Monday evening, a Rangers' official, Colonel Faisal Awan, said that Saleem alias Belgium was the mastermind behind the recent killings. "Belgium set up a death squad on the directives of MQM-L and the orders of MQM-L chief Altaf Hussain". He added that in a recent statement, the MQM-L chief had also forced his workers to kill his political rivals in the city.
Awan said that the suspects confessed to forming a squad to eliminate political rivals, particularly those belonging to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement - Pakistan (MQM-P) and the Pakistan Sarzameen Party (PSP). Their activities, Awan said, included three major terrorist attacks in Karachi. The bombing of a 'Mehfil-e-Milad' organised by the MQM-P in Gulistan-e-Johar on December 8, 2018, the attack on PSP's office in Rizvia on December 23, 2018 and on MQM-P's office in New Karachi on February 11. Quoting the suspects confession, Awan said, "They had prepared two IEDs [improvised explosive devices] for an attack on former MQM leader Farooq Sattar and on the MQM-P's protest outside the Karachi Press Club over the attack on its office". He said that fortunately, the tightened security measures foiled their plans. He added that the Rangers' team seized IEDs which had been deactivated.
The spokesperson said that the Rangers investigators had enough evidence to prove the suspects' crime. He added, "We have the IEDs, their voice recordings, confessions and forensic analysis of the weapons seized from their possession". He said that the tests for empties of 30 bore pistols, Kalashnikov and the 9mm pistols used in the three attacks were a match for the seized weapons.
Awan said that the suspects communicated through Whatsapp and were funded by Belgium who also provided them with weapons. Awan played multiple voice recordings at the conference in which the suspects allegedly discussed crimes and terrorist activities they had conducted. The suspects used code words like 'boxes', 'aalu' and 'cassettes' while allegedly referring to the IEDs, hand grenades and pistol, respectively.
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Talking about the assassination of the former MNA and MQM-P leader, Syed Ali Raza Abidi, and other violent attacks along political and sectarian lines, the Rangers official said that counter-terrorism department, intelligence agencies and the police along with Rangers were probing the cases.
The arrested suspects include Syed Waqas, Mohsin Ali, Tanzeem, Rehman alias Shahrukh, Zameeruddin, Shaheryar alias Sherry, Syed Raza Ali and Anisur Rehman. A further nine members of the squad are still at large and they include Asif alias Pasha, Naeem, Sajjad Chaudhry, Junaid Joni, Kashif and Azam.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 26th, 2019.