ISLAMABAD/ KARACHI: Nine people – mostly policemen and paramilitary troops – were killed and over a dozen injured in a bomb attack on the convoy of a senior Sindh High Court judge in the Burns Road neighbourhood of Karachi on Wednesday.
The judge, Maqbool Baqar, was also injured in the attack that the outlawed Tehreek-s-Taliban Pakistan claimed was carried out by its fighters.
Justice Baqar was travelling to the Sindh High Court around 8.27am when the militants remotely triggered an improvised explosive device (IED) planted on a motorcycle. The subsequent blast destroyed Justice Baqar’s Honda Civic, two police vans and two Rangers motorcycles.
Walls of the nearby houses were damaged and windows of several buildings in the neighbourhood were shattered by the thud of the blast. The attack took place near an area where important government buildings – including Sindh High Court, Sindh Assembly and Sindh Secretariat – are located.
Six policemen, two Rangers personnel and Justice Baqar’s driver were killed in the bomb attack. Although the judge survived, he was badly wounded along with six policemen, two Rangers personnel and a passer-by woman and her daughter.
“Justice Baqar was the target,” AIG Ghulam Qadir Thebu told reporters at the blast site. Justice Baqar was on leave but he still visited his office routinely.
According to CID Superintendent Raja Umer Khattab, the terrorists triggered the IED as soon as Justice Baqar’s convoy turned towards the SHC. “It seems they carried out the attack with proper homework,” he said. Justice Baqar had received threats from banned outfits, including Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, in the past.
Following the threats, paramilitary Rangers had set up a picket outside Justice Baqar’s residence.
Ambulances from different welfare organisations shifted the casualties to Civil Hospital and Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre. Justice Baqar was later moved to Aga Khan Hospital, where medics declared his condition stable after surgery.
“Justice Baqar received injuries to his head and jaw,” a source in the hospital told The Express Tribune. “After surgery, he is now out of danger.”
According to the initial report of the Bomb Disposal Squad (BDS), the home-made bomb was planted on a motorcycle parked along the footpath near Hanafia Masjid on Burns Road.
“A uni-directional IED was used in the attack,” a BDS official told The Express Tribune. Unlike other explosive devices, ‘uni-directional bombs’ explode in one particular direction, he explained.
The device weighed around six to eight kilogrammes, the official said, adding that ball bearings, nuts, bolts and shrapnel were also used to inflict maximum casualties.
Meanwhile police denied reports that they have detained a suspect in connection with the blast. They said they were examining the footage of closed-circuit television cameras installed along Justice Baqar’s route to find clues to the perpetrators.
The TTP spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan claimed credit for the attack on Justice Baqar. “We claim responsibility for the attack on the SHC judge since he delivered verdicts against Muslims and particularly the Mujahideen,” Ehsan told The Express Tribune in a phone call from an undisclosed location.
He said the judge was also part of the ‘secular system’ and the attack was in line with the Taliban policy to target all those who are part of that system.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 27th, 2013.
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