KARACHI: Involvement of sectarian outfits can’t be ruled out in Tuesday night’s blasts in Hyderi market where most of the people killed belonged to the Dawoodi Bohra community, said a senior police official on Wednesday, drawing similarities with the explosives used in past attacks.
“Ball bearings have been used before in similar explosions by the sectarian terrorists,” said CID SP Investigation Mazhar Mashwani. “So there is a possibility that Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) might be involved.”
Twin blasts ripped through the Hyderi market during rush hour as people were busy shopping. Most of the seven killed and over two dozen wounded belonged to the Bohra community.
SP Mashwani recalled similar explosive devices planted on motorbikes in the past. “There was one attack in Malir 15, at Nursery Bridge, JPMC and in front of the Darul Sehat hospital,” he said. “They used ball bearings and nut bolts in all of those attacks.”
While police is still investigating the case, some officers also suspected involvement of the banned separatist group – the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA).
On August 13, the eve of Pakistan’s Independence Day celebrations, police was tipped off about presence of a bomb in the same market. It was defused and SP Mashwani had then pointed at BLA.
“In January, we had picked up some men belonging to BLA as suspects involved in attack on Rangers. The way the improvised bomb was made and used was the same as found in the market. It was also the same on August 14 eve, and there was every reason to suspect that the organisation might be behind it.”
But the sectarian outfits are bent on spreading terror and the Bohra community, who are basically Shia, can be a target, he said. “Bohras are rice traders and businessmen. It was probably meant to create more sectarian tensions.”
Senior police official Aslam Khan said investigators suspected the Bohra community was the target of the blasts, which could be heard several kilometres away, as they own many of the shops and houses in the area.
“They are peaceful community that live in tens of thousands in Karachi and mainly do business. We are investigating why they have been targeted,” he said.
Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city, is plagued by sectarian, ethnic and political violence, with at least 1,100 dying in attacks this year, but this is thought to be the first time Bohras have been successfully targeted.
However, a police investigator speaking anonymously said officers foiled an attempted bombing in Hyderi Market just weeks earlier.
“Just a month ago, we recovered a powerful bomb in the same area,” he said. “They are peaceful people and we are seriously investigating sectarian reasons behind the explosion.”
“The community is reasonably afraid because of the attack, but we are intensifying security in the area.”
Many of Pakistan’s Bohras - who number half a million, according to community leaders -- are traders, and around half live in Karachi, running food, grocery and clothing businesses.
“We are very peaceful people, such attacks have highly shaken our confidence. We are in a state of shock and the government will have to do a lot to restore our confidence,” Naveed Lotia, 42, a cloth merchant in Hyderi said.
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