Premature detonations: Alleged members of LeJ killed due to manhandling of explosives

In 2002, a similar incident in a house in Korangi had claimed the lives of four LeJ members.

Investigators search the house in Patel Para where three alleged members of LeJ were killed in a blast on Saturday. Police believe that the blast took place when the deceased tried to link the IED with a mobile phone. PHOTO: MOHAMMAD NOMAN/EXPRESS

KARACHI: The terrorists killed in the blast inside a house in Patel Para on Saturday evening were experts in bomb making and were affiliated with the outlawed Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), The Express Tribune learnt on Sunday.

Three suspected terrorists, identified as Matinullah, his relative Subhan and a companion Akbar Aka Bukhari, were killed while another, Imran, was wounded when a powerful explosion took place inside a rented house in the narrow streets of Patel Para shortly after Iftar.

Police have taken the fourth suspect, Imran, in custody who, according to police officials, has already revealed information pertinent to the investigation.

"All three deceased, belonging to the LeJ, were experts of bomb making and lived in Lines Area," Imran said in his statement to the investigators. "They had earlier been arrested by the Crime Investigation Department - Matinullah was arrested twice - but were released on bail within a few months after their arrests."

History repeating itself?

The alleged terrorists were said to be associated with the Asif Ramzi faction of the outlawed LeJ. Asif Ramzi and his three companions were killed in a similar incident in 2002 when a blast occurred in Korangi due to manhandling of explosives. "Interestingly, both the explosions in Korangi and Patel Para have similarities - Matinullah's brother, Abbas, lost his life in the 2002 incident. Both the brothers were pros at making bombs and both lost their lives due to manhandling of devices," chief of the Counter Terrorism and Financial Crime Unit, SSP Raja Omar Khattab, told The Express Tribune.

Ramzi was allegedly involved in various high-profile cases of terrorism, including the kidnapping-cum-murder of Daniel Pearl, attack outside the US Consulate in Karachi and parcel bombings. With Ramzi's killing, Asif Chohto took over the commands of the group and is currently operating the organisation from Waziristan.

Ongoing investigation

Police believe that the fourth suspect, admitted at the Karachi Civil Hospital under police custody, is a member of the outlawed Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan. Police also claimed to have found evidence linking Imran to Sipah-e-Sahaba from his house.

"From the initial investigation, we can say that Imran was not directly involved in the terrorist activity and was just providing logistical support to them [LeJ members]," said SSP Khattab. "Hopefully, he will give us more information that can prove useful in the investigation."

SSP Khattab confirmed that the blast occurred when the alleged terrorists tried to link the IED with a mobile phone but could not say for sure what the intended target of the bomb was.

"The overall circumstances indicate that they had almost made the bomb and were finally linking the detonator with it which means that they wanted to carry out the attack on Saturday night."

The building where the explosion took place is owned by man identified as Ayub who is currently abroad while his brother, police officer Mansoor Ali Shah, leased the apartment through a property dealer, Ali Zaman. The brother, who was posted at the Garden Police Headquarters, and the dealer have both been detained by the police for questioning. An FIR, No. 255/13, has been registered at the Jamshed Quarters police station.

Attack on commissioner

There was no progress with regard to the attack on the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation Commissioner Matanat Ali Khan. On Saturday, Khan along with his driver and a passerby were wounded in the attack while his security guard was killed. DSP Nasir Lodhi said that the commissioner was in a stable condition and police was trying to gather clues to investigate the case.

Based on the initial investigation, however, police believe that the same group of terrorists who carried out the attack against Justice Maqbool Baqar could have been behind the attack on the commissioner

Meanwhile, the Aziz Bhatti police have registered an FIR, No. 326/13, under Sections 302/34, 324/34, 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act and ¾ of the explosive act, on the complaint of Haroon, the injured driver of Matanat Ali Khan, against unidentified persons.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2013.