You were warned: Intelligence agencies had cautioned LEAs about potential attack

Around two months ago, police had taken details of residents living in the areas close to Karachi airport.

Sohail Khattak June 11, 2014
Armoured vehicles stand guard at Karachi airport. PHOTO: PPI

KARACHI: Intelligence agencies had warned law enforcers to keep a vigilant eye over the residential areas located near the airport's boundary wall. These include Pehlwan Goth, Bhittaiabad and the adjoining slums.

The intelligence reports had pointed towards possible security threats to the airport, particularly from these two areas, but no measures were taken by the law enforcement agencies (LEAs) in this regard. The police and Rangers were jolted into carrying out a search operation in Pehlwan Goth after militants opened fire at the ASF camp at around 11am on Tuesday.

Both areas are located at a distance of around a kilometre from the airport's boundary wall. The Airport Security Force (AFS) camp, ASF academy and the aircraft parked inside the airport as well as the runway are in plain view from these areas.

Both areas have semi-paved houses as well as a few multi-storey structures. Pehlwan Goth is a Pakhtun-dominated area and is a stronghold of the Awami National Party (ANP). During the general elections last year, ANP activists had received threats from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).  Meanwhile, Bhittaiabad is dominated by Sindhis and the nationalist parties enjoy a strong vote bank in the area. Between the two areas, there are around 200 houses that belong to members of the Christian community.

Pehlwan Goth falls in district East of the city, while Bhittaiabad in district Malir. An ANP leader of the area confirmed the threats from the TTP during the elections, but denied the reports that the TTP had a strong presence there. "The airport was attacked from the Fokker Gate and we have never seen suspicious people in our area," said the leader, on the condition of anonymity.

The police had collected the identification details of the residents of each apartment and house of Pehlwan Goth and Rabia City apartments around two months ago, said Raza Khan, a resident.

Eyewitness account

Mutahir, another resident of the Pehlwan Goth, told The Express Tribune that he was near the site of the attack when the firing incident occurred. "Two masked men, one dressed in khaki shalwar kameez and another in a shirt and trousers, came from the N-area of Pehlwan Goth on a motorcycle and opened fire at an ASF vehicle," he related. "The assailants then fled through the narrow streets near Tauheedi Masjid, towards Bhittaiabad. The ASF personnel also opened fire at them but they managed to escape."

After the incident, large contingents of Rangers personnel, police commandos and Pakistan Army cordoned off the area while the ASF personnel patrolled the boundary wall. The ASF officials at the camp said that they did not see the assailants.

The city police chief, AIGP Ghulam Qadir Thebo, told the media that the situation was under control and security agencies were looking for the terrorists. "No security personnel was injured," he said. "The terrorists were simply trying to create panic and they managed to achieve their objective."

Law enforcement agencies have also conducted raids in Gulistan-e-Jauhar and arrested two suspects from an apartment block, located near Kamran Chowrangi. The suspects have been shifted to an undisclosed location for questioning.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 11th, 2014.


truth | 7 years ago | Reply

Why these slum were allowed to grow around the airport...for security reason it should be removed,from Pehlwan Goth,terrorist and criminals were killing innocent people of gulistan-e-johar and many of these criminal have occupied empty flat in Rabia City

A2Z | 7 years ago | Reply

@Umer: No, huge budget of LEA is being spent on the VVIP duties. Police has been politicised by the corrupt politicians. Whoever is expecting some performance from our police must be living in fool's paradise.

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