The principal of a private secondary school in Ittehad Town was killed and several children, including his daughter, were injured after an attack and shooting at the school on Saturday morning.
Nation Secondary School principal, 45-year-old Abdul Rasheed Khan, was also the vice-president of Awami National Party’s district west. The school is located in Baldia Ittehad Town’s Rehmania Muhalla, considered a Taliban stronghold.
Even though it was the weekend, the school was open for its annual result day. A prize-distribution ceremony was taking place for the position holders and nearly 500 students had gathered when the explosion took place.
According to witnesses, a young man in shalwar kameez and a light beard threw an explosive device and then started firing indiscriminately. “The magic show was going on when the blast occurred,” said Gul Khair Ali, a school employee who was injured in the firing. “First we thought that the loud bang was part of the magic show. Then the firing started and then we couldn’t figure out what happened.”
Another witness said that one of the two armed men also entered the school and opened fire. “The principal was standing near the gate,” he said. “He tried to run to save his life but the shooters kept firing and several others were also hit as a result.”
The suspects walked over to the school and they even escaped on foot. After crossing a street outside the school, they snatched a motorcycle and escaped towards the road leading to Manghopir. Besides the principal, a retired school teacher, 62-year-old Mian Syed, who was also an ANP leader, Ali and three students, 10-year-old Tahira Nazeer, eight-year-old Amna Kareem and the principal’s 12-year-old daughter Atiya Rasheed were wounded. They were first taken to a nearby private hospital and later shifted to Civil Hospital, Karachi.
According to the hospital officials, the deceased was shot at least five times and he died shortly after he was brought in. The injured students were released after first aid, while the retired teacher and a school employee are still in the hospital. However, none of the injuries resulted from the explosion. The victims were injured in the firing or the resulting stampede.
The police and Rangers cordoned off the site after the explosion. The police found at least 30 bullet shells of 30-bore pistols that were sent to the forensic division. Baldia division SP Shahjahan Khan told The Express Tribune that the deceased was the culprit’s target as the ANP is on the hit-list of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. “The explosion only meant to create panic so that the shooters can enter the school and kill their target,” he said.
The bomb disposal squad explained the explosion was caused by a tennis ball, which contained 250 grammes of explosives. It also contained ball bearings.
ANP’s district West under attack
The ANP has lost its top three leaders in district West - Ameer Sardar, Saeed Ahmed Khan and Hanif Khan Advocate - at the hands of the alleged militants. ANP’s Bashir Jan complained that the party officials are not being given proper security even though everyone knows they are on the TTP hit-list.
“We are from the tribal areas and we need weapons to protect ourselves,” he said. “But our weapons are seized for verification during operations and we are left vulnerable in front of the terrorists.”
According to Jan, the party has two options: either to join hands with the terrorists, which is no longer possible, or to protect ourselves in our own way. He held the government responsible in case the violence escalates.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 31st, 2013.