Deadly attack: President’s security chief killed in blast

Published: July 11, 2013
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Rangers and media persons stand near the wreckage of the vehicle of President Zardari’s chief security officer after the blast. PHOTO: REUTERS

Rangers and media persons stand near the wreckage of the vehicle of President Zardari’s chief security officer after the blast. PHOTO: REUTERS

KARACHI: He was responsible for the security of President Asif Ali Zardari. He survived three attempts on his life in the past. However, he wasn’t lucky enough on Wednesday. Bilal Shaikh, the chief security officer of President Zardari and former security in-charge for Bilawal House, was killed in a suspected suicide attack at the busiest thoroughfare of Karachi. Shaikh’s driver-cum-police guard was also killed in the attack that took place in the Guru Mandir neighbourhood of the metropolis.

Shaikh was travelling in his bullet-proof SUV to his home in Khamosh Colony from the upscale Defence neighbourhood. The blast took place when his SUV pulled over at a roadside shop near Guru Mandir to buy some fruits, according to his security guard.

“Bilal Sahib asked us to pull over at the fruit shop,” Mairaj Ali Zaidi told The Express Tribune. “Bilal Sahib opened the door of SUV but did not get down. He was talking to the fruit vendor when a powerful blast went off,” added another guard Alamdar, who also sustained injuries in the blast.

Shaikh and his driver-cum-police guard, Irfan Zaidi, were killed and a dozen others were wounded. Rescuers shifted the casualties to Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre and Civil Hospital.

The blast partially damaged the fruit shop and shattered the windows of nearby buildings. “There was no stranger in the shop at the time of the blast,” said the fruit vendor, Abdul Aziz. “We are also trying to figure out how the blast happened.”

Bomb Disposal Squad (BDS) officials didn’t find anything which could suggest it was a planted device. “The bomb weighed five to six kilogrammes,” one BDS official told The Express Tribune. “Ball-bearings were also used to inflict maximum casualties.”

“Apparently it was a suicide attack. The bomber might have walked up to Shaikh and detonated the explosives he was carrying,” the official said. “We have collected the head and severed limbs of the suspected bomber from the site and sent them to laboratory for DNA test.”

The city police chief also believes it was a suicide attack. “The evidence suggests it was a suicide attack,” AIG Ghulam Qadir Thebu told The Express Tribune at the blast site. “We have found a severed head which is possibly of the bomber.”

Thebu added that he has constituted a committee to probe the attack. DIG East Captain (retd) Tahir Naveed would head the committee.

Previous attacks

Bilal Shaikh had survived three attacks in the past, at City Courts, Five Star’s Chowrangi and Khamosh Colony. Lyari gangsters, including Shahid Bikkik and Ahsan Mohajir, were blamed for the last attack in May 2011. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. Investigators are clueless about the possible perpetrators. “Usually, the Taliban use suicide bombers to attack their targets. However, we cannot say anything about the possible perpetrators of this attack or its motives since our investigation is ongoing,” CID SSP Chaudhry Aslam Khan told The Express Tribune.

Since the assassination of PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto, Shaikh is the fourth prominent security officer of the PPP to have been killed. Earlier Khalid Shahenshah, the chief security officer for Bilawal House, was gunned down outside his residence in Clifton in 2008. Three years later Shahenshah’s close aide Imran, aka Imran Jangi, was shot dead outside his residence in the Azizabad neighbourhood of the city. Lastly, a personal security officer of President Zardari, Abdul Rehman Baloch, was gunned down inside the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre by the guard of ANP leader Ramzan Kakar in December 2012.

Condemnation

PPP Patron-in-Chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari condemned the deadly attack on Bilal Sheikh and said the anti-democratic and extremist mindset was behind such barbaric act of terrorism, which needs to be stopped with firmness and unity. “We will not be intimidated by such cowardly acts and such acts will not deter our resolve to fight terrorism,” he said in a statement.

Bilawal paid rich tributes to Bilal Shaikh for his struggle in the restoration of democracy. He sympathised with the bereaved families and prayed to Allah Almighty to bless the departed souls with eternal peace. PPP leader Syed Owais Muzaffar said PPP leaders were being targeted because the party has been waging war against terrorism.

He said the PPP would continue the mission of its founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and his daughter Benazir Bhutto against undemocratic forces. “Our leaders have sacrificed their lives for this cause and we will continue their mission,” he added. “It is high time all political forces joined hands against terrorist elements who have been attacking our schools, mosques, temples and churches.”

Published in The Express Tribune, July 11th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (21)

  • Benazeer Abbas
    Jul 11, 2013 - 2:32AM

    Very sad. Thoughts and prays for victims’ families.

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  • can’t imagine what the motive is

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  • Ashar Zia
    Jul 11, 2013 - 2:36AM

    “We have sent the limbs of bomber for DNA test”

    Are these of any use? Since we don’t have a central record of the population’s DNA. I think it’d be great if just like finger prints, every citizen’s DNA samples are taken at time of issuing them an ID card :/

    Recommend

  • Waseem
    Jul 11, 2013 - 2:57AM

    what a insecure country. when will it end? when Pakistan and Pakistanis will live like respected nations in the world?

    Recommend

  • Skhan
    Jul 11, 2013 - 3:06AM

    Provided AZ another excuse to leave coountry even before his term ends!

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  • ModiFied
    Jul 11, 2013 - 3:30AM

    Cursory reading of this news item seems to suggest very clearly that the guards have a hand in this whole episode. It was not Mr Bilal who asked to stop the vehicle to buy the fruits but these very guards who are telling a cooked up story.

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  • Usman786
    Jul 11, 2013 - 4:20AM

    AAZ donot pay tribute only. Pay atleast USD 200,000 to this person’s family whom you called today son like Bilawal.
    btw why he was using police vehicle and guards.

    Recommend

  • James Rosen
    Jul 11, 2013 - 5:22AM

    Welcome to the wild wild EAST! Why does this country not delcare martial law? The violence has been a situation that is beyond the capability of the Karachi security forces while Karacietes are maimed in killed. Unleash martial law in Karachi now!

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  • BP
    Jul 11, 2013 - 5:59AM

    @Waseem:
    one and only one as well as first and final answer is NEVER

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  • Insaan
    Jul 11, 2013 - 7:01AM

    When government officials are not answerable and can kill any one….Search and read
    about the following terrorist attack

    11 French submarine engineers were murdered in a bomb attack in Karachi seven years ago to punish France for the non-payment of arms contract “commissions” to senior Pakistani officials.

    Recommend

  • Polpot
    Jul 11, 2013 - 7:04AM

    This will scare the living daylights out of AAZ
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    He will now step out of his fortress only to fly to Dubai on Sep 8th.

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  • Mekaal Shahriyar
    Jul 11, 2013 - 9:18AM

    @Usman786:
    he would merrily give money from sind government’s kitty like he gave the million dollar to ajmer shrine by government of Pakistan’s kitty during his “private” visit

    Recommend

  • Jul 11, 2013 - 12:25PM

    @Waseem: Well said, Sir. All these problems are due to the surplus of politicians with a mean streak towards self-enrichment and total lack of education and employment facilities. Salams

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  • Mekaal Shahriyar
    Jul 11, 2013 - 12:50PM

    the kileld person had faced court proceedings in Justice Nizam;s murder case

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  • Feroz
    Jul 11, 2013 - 1:04PM

    I think the security of every Politician, Army man and Bureaucrat should be withdrawn to place them on par with all citizens. This will be the best way to have both accountability and responsibility. Currently there is no consensus on fighting terror, maybe the fear of leaving their house and being targeted will help them to draft legislation to deal with the problem. If you cannot grant liberty and life to common people, please sail in the same boat without privileges.

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  • Khalid Pathan
    Jul 11, 2013 - 1:52PM

    Like the wild West, this is wild East. Karachi has become a city where gangsters rule. Follow them or get eliminated. This particular incidence may be preplanned, when the bullet proof SUV stopped briefly, it was attacked. Was the suicide bomber waiting for this vehicle or was he following this vehicle?

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  • Shakir Lakhani
    Jul 11, 2013 - 4:27PM

    One hopes the PPP government learns from this incident and devotes more time to improve security in the city. The dead man had two police mobile vans (each with six policemen) accompanying him. Being a security man, he should not have used the same route to his house daily. He should not have stopped at the same shop for buying fruits or anything else. But then, when you are too close to powerful people like Zardari, you tend to forget such basic things.

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  • Polpot
    Jul 11, 2013 - 5:11PM

    It is suicidal in Pakistan to buy fruits
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Thats the conclusion I can draw.

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  • Arun Kumar
    Jul 11, 2013 - 6:15PM

    one and only one as well as first and final answer is NEVER

    Nice One…

    http://armedsecurityguards.wordpress.com/

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  • Arun Kumar
    Jul 30, 2013 - 6:09PM

    can’t imagine what the motive is….!!!!

    armedsecurityguard1.blogspot.com

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  • Arun Kumar
    Jul 30, 2013 - 6:09PM

    one and only one as well as first and final answer is NEVER
    Nice One…

    armedsecurityguard1.blogspot.com

    Recommend

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