KARACHI / ISLAMABAD: The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) claimed responsibility for the brazen attack on the Karachi airport the same day the police nominated the leadership of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in an FIR.
Uzbek militants, who are affiliated with the Pakistani Taliban and al Qaeda, have been hiding in North and South Waziristan for years. They had been suspected to be behind some previous attacks in Pakistan, however, they have claimed responsibility for a high-profile attack for the first time.
Even though the TTP had initially claimed credit, its spokesman Shahidullah Shahid now says it was a joint Taliban and IMU operation. Soon after the operation against the militants at the airport was over, the security forces had claimed the terrorists looked Uzbek.
“At midnight of Monday, ten brave martyrdom-seeking mujahideen of Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan wearing their explosive-filled vests attacked a very special section of Karachi International Airport of Pakistan,” the English-language statement attributed to the IMU said.
The page included photographs of 10 black-turbaned fighters wearing green tunics and white trainers while carrying assault rifles, in what appeared to be a snowy mountainous region.
The Uzbek group describes the attacks as revenge for Pakistani airstrikes in North Waziristan on May 21 that targeted areas populated by Uzbek and other foreign militants.
Uzbek fighters had been expelled from South Waziristan by Taliban leader Mullah Nazir after locals had turned against them for their harsh behaviour with tribesmen. They moved to North Waziristan and mostly live in Mir Ali. The area had been the focus of the military airstrikes in recent weeks.
Tohir Abduhalilovich Yuldashev, who became an IMU leader after the killing of its founder Juma Namangani in Afghanistan in 2001, was believed to have been killed in South Waziristan in a US drone strike in 2009 after the death of Baitullah Mehsud also in an attack by a US spy aircraft.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, the FIR was registered against TTP chief Maulana Fazalullah and spokesperson Shahidullah Shahid and other militants – but not under the Pakistan Protection Ordinance (PPO).
An FIR No. 87/14 under Sections 302/34, 427, 353, 435, 436/34, 109 and 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) was registered at the airport police station. Police officials say they were unable to place the PPO sections in this case as the government has yet to extend its period. “We nominated them [the TTP leadership] as they first claimed responsibility,” said IGP Sindh Iqbal Mehmood. The police have also recorded the statements before registering the case.
Another man found dead
Another man was found dead at the cargo terminal on Wednesday, but he is yet to be identified. However, CAA officials said the body could be of ASF sub-inspector Jumman Shah, who was earlier declared missing after the airport attack. The body was taken to Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre for autopsy and identification.
With this, the number of deaths from the cargo cold storage cave-in and the terrorist attack has reached 38, which includes 10 militants.
Some ‘accomplices’ arrested
At least five employees of two cellular service providers were detained in Nawabshah after agencies and the police gathered that the SIM cards found from the deceased militants were bought from two particular franchises.
The record from these franchises has also been seized, said officials. They also said investigators have detained a dozen more suspects during various raids.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 12th, 2014.