Bomb near consulate: Rangers were target of blast, say police

2 injured in fifth attempt to harm the paramilitary force.


Shaheryar Mirza July 23, 2012

KARACHI:


Two people were slightly injured when a small motorcycle bomb went off in Clifton in an attack initially thought to target the Consulate of the People’s Republic of China but was later claimed by the police to be aimed at the Rangers.


If true, this would be the fifth attempt to attack the paramilitary force in a week.

SSP South Asif Ijaz Sheikh who was at the scene soon after the blast, admitted that it was a lapse in security to take place so close to the consulate and right outside the Pakistan Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management.

“You can say it was a lapse of security but not a very big one,” Sheikh told reporters, adding that, “a constable challenged the man who parked his motorbike there, but he was able to escape after which the bomb exploded.”

This version of events, however, was challenged by the tourism school students who were on a break in between classes at the time. “I didn’t see anything of the sort and if a man had come and tried to pass the barrier we would have seen him run off or be chased by security,” said Faizan who studies hotel management at the tourism school.

The explosives could have been detonated through a timer, according to Sheikh. The Rangers constable and a security guard were injured lightly by the bits of shrapnel that hit their legs.

According to Faizan and other students, who were all dressed in their white toques and aprons, the blast was strong enough to shatter some of the windows in their accounts department. The mudguard and other pieces of the motorcycle flew into their school. One of the motorcycles that were damaged in the explosion belonged to a student.

A small lane separates the tourism school and the consulate, and on that road, a Rangers mobile is always on duty. The motorcycle exploded about ten feet from the corner of the consulate at a barrier (see map).

Speaking to BBC Urdu, a spokesperson for a group calling itself the Lashkar-e-Balochistan claimed responsibility. The attack was carried out because, “China and other foreign powers are making agreements with Pakistan that are not acceptable to the Baloch people.” The group added that “China and other foreign companies should stop fleecing Balochistan’s resources and should immediately exit the province otherwise personnel and infrastructure would continue to be targeted in the province.”

Senator Rehman Malik and police chief Fayyaz Leghari stated that the attack was not one on the consulate. Regardless of who was the actual target in the attack, Chinese diplomats won’t take any comfort in knowing that a bomber could get within ten feet of their consulate with an explosive device. The Chinese have been attacked four times since 2004, albeit in Balochistan, for their work in that province.

The police believe the Rangers were the target. In the past one week, eight Rangers jawans have been wounded in attacks in Quaidabad and Buffer Zone in Karachi. On the same day as the attack in Quaidabad, the bomb disposal squad defused a 12 kilogram bomb from an empty plot near the headquarters of the Sachal Rangers. A few days later, at Safoora Chowrangi in Gulistan-e-Jauhar another 12 kg bomb was defused. Here too the Rangers appeared to be the focus.

The motorcycle (KEG-3252) used in the attack is registered to a Khalil Ahmed, a resident of Gulistan Society in Landhi. According to SSP Ijaz Sheikh, it was not stolen as is usually the case. After tracking down its owner, the police took a man in for questioning but it was not clear that this was the Khalil Ahmed, the registered owner of the vehicle.

The police chief announced one million rupees for anyone who comes forward with information about the incident. CCTV footage has been recovered but was not released to the public. The Chinese consulate made no official comment by the filing of this report.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2012.

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