Five people were killed and eighteen injured in Malir Halt when SSP Malir Rao Anwar’s armoured personnel carrier (APC) came under attack in a bomb blast.
A little after 11am on Thursday, SSP Rao Anwar was making his way to the Malir court for a meeting with a sessions judge regarding an inquiry into the murder in March of a former Malir Bar Association president Salahuddin, and his son Ali.
As Anwar’s convoy passed a printing press in the area and reached the corner before the turn, an explosion ripped through the air, shooting ball bearings in every direction.
“When we got near the turning, which is where the cars have to slow down, that was the target area and the attacker came at that point and rammed into the door. There is a khadda over there that forces everyone to slow down,” said SSP Anwar.
Anwar, who has been the centre of a controversy and is a household name for criminals in the city, says he was in the second car out of the six-vehicle convoy that also included police mobile units as well as APCs.
“The sound was so loud and the explosion so large that everything became dark for a moment and everyone started rushing,” a witness told the media.
The explosion created panic on the roads as cars started rushing from all sides driving down the wrong side of the street. CCTV footage captured the chaos.
Anwar and his fellow police officers escaped unhurt.
Brigadier Javed Iqbal of the Rangers claimed right at the beginning that it was a suicide attack but the police gave conflicting information. Charred chunks of flesh have been sent away for DNA testing.
The official version from the Sindh police spokesperson on the nature of the blast is that it was a planted bomb in a motorcycle that struck Anwar’s convoy and not a suicide attack. This claim is corroborated by the driver of the APC, who also said that no attacker rammed into the vehicle.
The APC’s front tyre exploded and had several small holes in it from the ball bearings, but the vehicle didn’t suffer any major damage to its door, which one would expect from an explosive being driven into it.
A portion of a face was discovered stuck to a Honda CD-70 motorcycle with the license plate KDA-1659 which is suspected to be the attacker’s vehicle. One police officer speculated that it could have just been a bomb planted in a motorcycle that was remotely detonated, and the face belonged to a passerby.
Whatever may be the case, this much is clear that the plotters had intricate details of Anwar’s movements even, unless it was a lucky guess, which vehicle he would use. “This is my daily routine to go to work. Today, I was going to work but the route was the same,” said Anwar adding that, “I only keep people I trust with me so it can’t be the work of an insider.”
According to Jinnah hospital’s MLO Dr Kaleem Shaikh, three of the bodies have been identified as Bilal, Atta Mohammad and Lal Badshah. They are working on two others. “One of the unidentified bodies could possibly be a bomber and another body could possibly be a beggar’s,” said Karim.
City wardens Syed Ejaz Ahmed, Iftikhar and Muhammad Ali Malik were among the injured while two to four of the injured are in critical condition, according to the MLO.
Additional Inspector General Sindh Police Akhtar Hussain Gorchani has ordered DIG East Captain (retd) Tahir Naveed to assemble a team to investigate.
Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan claimed it was behind the attack, hours after it took place. The TTP is known to claim attacks which later are owned by other organisations, but Anwar is convinced it was the TTP.
Anwar says that intelligence agencies provided him with a report about a month ago that warned him that there were threats against him and CID SSP Chaudhry Aslam, whose home was targeted in 2011. “I’ve arrested so many of their people before - they were after me,” said Anwar who seemed unperturbed.
Anwar is one of the inspectors who played a vital role in the Karachi operation in the 1990s against the Mohajir Qaumi Movement. He is considered an aide of President Zardari.
Anwar has himself ruled out that the lawyer’s murder case has any link to the attack as no progress was made.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 6th, 2012.
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