Karachi blast: An audacious reprisal

Published: November 12, 2010
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Rescuers and security personnel work beside the crater at the blast site in Karachi. PHOTO: AFP

Rescuers and security personnel work beside the crater at the blast site in Karachi. PHOTO: AFP

KARACHI: It was an audacious coordinated gun and car bomb suicide attack that was executed in the back alleys of what is referred to as the highest security zone in the city – mere metres away from the Sindh Chief Minister House and in the backyard of the most heavily guarded installations in the city.

The attack on the Sindh police’s main investigation agency, the Crime Investigation Department (CID) building, near PIDC, on Thursday night killed at least 16 people and injured more than 140.  The department is also responsible for anti-terrorism operations, and the attacked building also houses the Anti-Extremism Cell.

Almost expectedly, the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has taken responsibility for the blast.

Azam Tariq, a spokesman for the TTP, claimed responsibility for the attack, which, he said, was in retaliation for US air strikes in the country’s northwestern tribal areas.

“It’s a reaction to the drone strikes and such attacks will continue until drone strikes are stopped,” he told Reuters. It was a coordinated and chillingly efficient strike.

According to Home Minister Zulfiqar Mirza, around five to six people opened fire at the gate of the installation. Moments later, a vehicle packed with explosives forced its way into the premises, and made its way towards the main building, which houses key security officials’ offices.

The vehicle exploded just metres away from the building – setting off an explosion that was heard miles away. Though the skeleton of the building still stands, the facade was blown away by the intensity of the blast.

According to our reporter Hafeez Tunio, police sources said that the vehicle, registered in Peshawar, was carrying around 800 to 1,000 kilogrammes of explosive material.

The powerful explosion left a 10-foot deep and 50-foot wide crater outside the three-storey office building. Walls surrounding the high security zone were destroyed and window panes of nearby buildings were shattered by the impact. The area saw dozens of vehicles destroyed and damaged as rescue workers carried the dead and injured into ambulances.

The tremors of the blast were felt in Defence, II Chundrigar Road, Sharae Faisal and other areas across more than half the city. Roof of houses located just opposite the CID station in Civil Lines colony caved in, leaving several residents, most of whom worked as daily wagers, trapped inside. Houses in nearby Hijrat Colony were also damaged. The debris flung as far as the street leading towards the main gate of the Chief Minister House, which is located just 200 hundred yards away.

Witnesses said that, prior to the blast, a gun fight between heavily armed militants and security forces took place at around 8pm. Gulistan Lala, 60, said there were “terrifying sounds of fire that didn’t seem to come from a Kalashnikov, but something more sophisticated.” Lala said that the firing continued for at least 20 minutes before the explosion took place.

The blast plunged the entire area into darkness as smoke fumes engulfed the air. SSP Fayyaz Khan, whose office is located in the building, had left just before the attack occurred. His room was in flames.

A day earlier, he had announced the nabbing of a wanted Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militant. His colleagues SSP Omar Shahid and SSP Chaudhry Aslam had claimed a major breakthrough in busting the Asif Ramzi faction of the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, and arresting six militants on the same day.

Talking to his superior officer over the phone, Khan said the suicide car bomber came in a white Shehzore truck. The militants first killed the guards posted at the gate and continued firing on the building with sophisticated weapons and also lobbed grenades as the vehicle made its way towards the building.

“When I saw the men, who were at least six in number coming towards the building, I opened fire with my sub machine gun,” said CID sub- inspector, Irfan – who was positioned on the third floor of the building.

However, Irfan says he was outgunned by the militants as they immediately spotted his location and fired bullets towards him. “I’m lucky to be alive and still talking here,” Irfan said in his torn white shalwar kameez stained with blood.

However, the death and destruction are not the only things the authorities have to worry about. Also, a cause of concern was the militants and hardened criminals being held inside the building.

Khan, who was visibly shocked as the bodies of his injured and badly maimed colleagues poured out of the building, gave immediate orders to check each lock up inside.

There was no one inside anymore, Khan was told.

A senior intelligence official told The Express Tribune that the threat of an attack on police and security agencies had been at an all time high for a while now. “The CID was at the forefront of breaking the backs of the militant networks and was an obvious target,” he said.

The official said that the nature of the attack was similar to the Marriott hotel bombing that took place in Islamabad. “I don’t believe that this had anything to do with the arrests that CID made public just 24 hours before this incident,” he said however – adding that it was a sophisticated attack that must have taken days of preparation.

“I can tell you that there were no militants inside the CID centre when the bomber struck. We have cordoned off the area,” said IGP Sindh.

Meanwhile, the injured were moved to hospital wards. “At least 12 people are critically injured and are being operated on,” said Dr Seemi Jamali at the Jinnah Hospital.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 12th, 2010.

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Reader Comments (32)

  • Syed A. Mateen
    Nov 12, 2010 - 9:13AM

    No matter how much security is beefed up in the already declared red zone, the terrorists have made their way and launched a successful terrorist attack which took several lives and left more than hundred people wounded.

    The issue is that terrorists were hiding in Karachi with large cache of arms and ammunition and had enough time for preparation. No one reported the matter where the terrorists were hiding and no one had seen that people with dubious character are bringing in the huge amount of arms and ammunition and explosive.

    The truck made its way in the red zone area and rammed into the CID building. In plain words when terrorists are apprehended it is a success of security agencies and when terrorists successfully launch the suicide attack, it becomes a success story for the terrorists and therefore it becomes a win win situation for both i.e. the security agencies as well as for the terrorists.

    If people are killed in terrorist’s attacks, it means that there is a lope hole in the working of security agencies. Yesterday’s suicide attack was not the first terrorist attacks in the country. Why our security agencies are lacking behind in apprehending the terrorists before they conduct such attacks? Recommend

  • Ali Haider
    Nov 12, 2010 - 9:25AM

    Security in Pakistan is only for the elite. Other people do not enjoy this luxury.Recommend

  • Oxalis
    Nov 12, 2010 - 9:49AM

    This kind of planning and coordination is not in the capacity of so called TTP, who has claimed responsibility of attack to protect the executers of this operation.

    This kind of material and weaponery is only used by most well known agencies of the world.Recommend

  • babar ali
    Nov 12, 2010 - 10:14AM

    hi my name is babar ali and i am living in australia,as a pakistani i feel very sorrow and my eyes are gushing with tears.when i was watching the television about the blast,believe as a pakistani i cant express my condolences to those who are affected by this terrorism,,,,,,,,,,,,

    on one side the prices are sky rokect,for example daily nescessities,sugar price is 100 rupees per kg.musharraf said very well ab to pakistan ka khuda he hafiz,this govt will sink the country and will flee from pakistan becharay gareeb starvation sa mar jaen ga.
    Recommend

  • Irfan R
    Nov 12, 2010 - 10:19AM

    Looks like there is no end in sight for the violence in Pakistan. I don’t think we have anybody else to blame but ourselves for the plight we are in. The shortsighted policies we pursued 20 years ago have come home to roost. I don’t think it can be undone now. Allah save this country.Recommend

  • Jeddy
    Nov 12, 2010 - 10:48AM

    The highest concentration of police and security in this part of Karachi makes them a potential target. People cannot park anywhere. In most places the flow of traffic has been completely stopped for years; this will go on till the war in Afghanistan continues.
    Before the war in Afghanistan, the roads were not closed, cars were parked more or less anywhere, and they were never removed. Nothing even close to this ever happened. We do not need more police and more security personnel, all that we need is less corruption.Recommend

  • saad
    Nov 12, 2010 - 10:49AM

    when malaysian authorities were asked about being spared from terrorist attacks while indonesia suffered, the official replied, ‘we are vigilant.’ can we say the same for ourselves?? this is one country which is used as a transit point by all kind of characters, and for them passports, id cards and other documents can be easily obtained! flashback: a year back or so transit passengers or the like escaped from karach airport under the noses of the ever so vigilant caa! so many instances and the reason: corruption, and lack of patriotism. Recommend

  • Punjabi Munda
    Nov 12, 2010 - 10:59AM

    I strongly believe RAW, Mossad and CIA is behind this! This cannot be done by Pakistanis, there are no terrorists in Pakistan, only freedom fighters!Recommend

  • A Suhail
    Nov 12, 2010 - 11:01AM

    So TTP takes responsibility for this attack. The reason are the drone attacks by Americans so TTP decides to blow their own countrymen to oblivion so as to take revenge from the Americans. Soon this comment board will have one of the taliban apologists blaming blackwater for this attack. Why do we have so many of these people in our country.Recommend

  • Punjabi Munda
    Nov 12, 2010 - 11:03AM

    Can anyone take an educated guess on what will be Pakistan’s fate in 10 years from now?Recommend

  • ASQ
    Nov 12, 2010 - 11:34AM

    Every thing will be back to normal within 24 hours not to worry.its not like the first time!Recommend

  • Asim Ali
    Nov 12, 2010 - 11:43AM

    Enough with the analysis. Action is what is needed. Focus on what law enforcement is doing so that it does not happen again. Our yesterdays are lost. Tomorrow is what we need to focus on.Recommend

  • Waqar Ahmed
    Nov 12, 2010 - 11:59AM

    i think i would have been better to be a partner with So Called terrorists thn supporting USA in War against terror.

    The attackers are brave
    The defenders are fearful

    Our Police and law enforcement agencies are well trained in finding out innocent man just to take advantage of his innocence. Recommend

  • Jafakush
    Nov 12, 2010 - 12:05PM

    Without government involvement this is not possible. They are supported either actively or they are supported because there is no investigations from Govt. and heads dont roll.

    As for Mr. A Suhail your naive comment is a little unclear since most of the Pakistanis have head in the hole like an ostrich when it is faced with danger. If you can do the research you can find the idiotic mythology Al Qaeda, Bin Laden and war on terror.

    Do you know Zbigniew Brzezinski? He is the main policy maker in US, the man behind Obama. If you read his book you can find where Obama words come from which he parrots all over the world.

    As for Pakistan, it is being punished for being China ally. Taliban doesn’t have financial capacity to fund massive extensive operations in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sudan, Yemen and Iraq. Do your own research and educate us what you think instead of blaming everything on Taliban. If you have personal issues with Taliban that I cannot help you with.Recommend

  • Jafakush
    Nov 12, 2010 - 12:18PM

    Saad it is true, without government call it incompetence or negligence or partner in crime these incidents are not possible.Recommend

  • A Suhail
    Nov 12, 2010 - 12:18PM

    @Waqar. What a twisted opinion you hold. Its not ok to kill innocent people.. period. There is no bravery in killing innocent bystander only a coward will take an innocent life. Do you think the 25 families who are mourning their dead will appreciate your logic. So you are telling the world its ok to kill yourself and take 70 people with you but its cowardly to defend one self. No wonder we are in this. Get your head out of the ground and start thinking rationally. Not a single islamic country want taliban and al qaida amongst themselves and very few have this terror issue including our country because we allow them to live amongst us and we allow them to blow our people to kingdom come. Recommend

  • Daubic
    Nov 12, 2010 - 12:23PM

    What is sow is what you reap. When you use your strategic assets to blast the sites in other countries, you hail them as patriotic freedom warriors. When the same thing happens to you, you blame them. Till you change your attitude this is not going to stop.

    Other wise there is one way to get rid of this, give the state to these freedom fighters, they will not fight with you. But then you would have reached 1000 years back and have to live like a stone age person. Use your common sense and heart and not your ideological ideas to support these poeple either they are targeting your people or other country people. Recommend

  • faraz
    Nov 12, 2010 - 12:25PM

    During the 90s, over 20,000 Pakistanis faught alongside Afghan Taliban against the Northern Alliance (who were Muslims, natives, Islamists and ex-Mujahids). We nurtured private extremists militias for 3 decades, all this was bound to happen. Why do we act so suprised? Recommend

  • Mohammad Jawed Iqbal
    Nov 12, 2010 - 12:33PM

    Its time to do now we have said enough about terrorism just finished them all and use all resources and we can get help from China and Afghanistan because TTP is just doing these all and doing successfully and they just target innocent people they are not doing any thing with NATO and US Forces its mean they just want to kill innocent Pakistanis as they did lots of thing in Mosques (MASAJIDS) Shrines (Mazarat) Markets Govt. Building and every where like school and other good places now its time to finished them and Government should take hard action against them and they are not Real Taliban because Taliban at least Respect Muslims and I think TTP people are not MuslimsRecommend

  • Anonymous
    Nov 12, 2010 - 12:51PM

    Case of “strategic assets” going mutant. Yet Gen Musharraf advocates going soft on them.Recommend

  • john donne
    Nov 12, 2010 - 1:09PM

    No good wasting precious time on such news. Bettter to do constructive work, whatever one is competent to do, and remain oblivious to media, a time waster, by baiting people with such news, blowing them up beyond proportion, and using so-called ‘breaks’ doing worthless adds for making money.Recommend

  • Post Human
    Nov 12, 2010 - 1:17PM

    these are suicide attacks. there is precious little governments or security agencies can do to stop them. Israel, with all its sophisticated apparatus has failed to stop suicide bombings (short of walling their opponents in) – what can we hope to do?

    As they say, “when your enemy ceases to fear death, the rules of war change.”

    the answer is not simply “vigilance.” if it were so, these occurrences would be a thing of the past. a solution requires a multi-faceted approach. this would include pumping money into education, and building up the local economy thereby fostering employment (especially in those areas from where people are recruited). An effective grass roots public relations campaign needs to be managed to bring those people back who’ve been brainwashed by these death-embracing ideologies. And of course ground intelligence and effective policing to arrest those who would like to harm society.

    Only focusing on one factor, while ignoring the rest, will not do any good. Leaders will thump their chests, while the masses will burn.Recommend

  • Fahd Ali Raza
    Nov 12, 2010 - 1:41PM

    I agree with ASQ. Zulfiqar Mirza will express frustration at his hands being tied, while Rahman Malik will proudly disclaim any attack being made in the first place. About Rs. 500,000 will be announced for the dead, and Rs. 100,000 for each of the injured. The matter will be forgotten. Did you know that not ‘one’ of the families of the Air Blue crash sued the airline, or the avionics manufacturer? If the affected don’t care, why should anyone else?Recommend

  • Someone
    Nov 12, 2010 - 1:53PM

    Just stop the drone attacks if thats the case then! The drone attacks kill civilians too! The people who do suicide attacks dont have to be Islamic mujahideen….they could also be those disgruntled by the death of their kinsmen in Waziristan. The TTP is just an excuse which props up everywhere..their mission is to kill people and finding locals ain’t a problem for themRecommend

  • Nov 12, 2010 - 2:20PM

    Where is our 29 most powerful person in the world, our COAS and the worlds number one rated intelligence agency. Every day people are being killed across the country. We have become so immune to violence that its only spectacular forms of violence that hit the headlines. We continue to play a double game, those perpetrating violence are the same organizations our leadership doesnt or wont go after as they offer us “strategic depth”. Our whole country is hostage to a few thousand radicalised militants whose goal in life is to wage Jihad and die for the Allmighty. Many amongst us continue to support their mission, and offer justifications for their actions. They are nothing more than petty criminals, involved in murder, extortion, theft and kidnapping, enough is enough, or has the spectre of Indian influence in Afghanistan blinded everyone to deaths of our own citizens here? Its as if we find the deaths of our own citizens as acceptable collateral damage to continue our influence in Afghanistan and hedge our bets against India. Please, if the militants and their ideologically warped backers have a death wish, atleast spare all of those who are just trying to make ends meet, waking up every morning thinking whether its their last. Recommend

  • Tilsim
    Nov 12, 2010 - 8:05PM

    Many of the comments above show a soft corner for the extremist murderers. It is clear that many Pakistanis are utterly confused about why this is occurring; blaming it on drone attacks rather than looking at the existential nature of the struggle. With that outlook, we cannot effectively fight this menace and the fault and the result are very much our own.

    So many people are saying this can’t be the work of Muslims, including Abdus Sattar Edhi (for whom I have tremendous respect otherwise). Well, the murders consider themselves as the true Muslims and the rest of us are apostates who’s lives don’t matter. We can only win this if we recognise the evil – if we can’t see it, we are lost.Recommend

  • Anoop
    Nov 12, 2010 - 9:43PM

    India has a border which is constantly under surveillance from militants based in Pakistan and well guarded. There cant exist a similar border withing Pakistan, can it.

    LeJ,which is mentioned in the article, was once supported by Pakistani ISI. Looks like it still hasn’t learnt its lesson. Unless it does and treats all extremists equally harshly this is not going to go away. Recommend

  • Ali
    Nov 13, 2010 - 2:16AM

    For the love of God, Please stop this… Bomb blast in one part of the country to stop US Drone attacks in other part doesn’t make sense at all…

    God please have mercy on us, Recommend

  • Mawali
    Nov 13, 2010 - 3:05AM

    The apathy in general is chilling. I feel for the poor people and especially the police personnel who lost their lives. However, I remain dumbfounded at the lack of care and concern shown by the present (mis)Government and the rest of the hoodlums from various and sundry political parties.
    What additional information do the TTP has that makes them believe that the Government of Pakistan has it within its control to stop the drone attacks? Even, if the Pakistani authorities desperately wanted to stop these attacks they just do not have the wherewithal to do so. Pakistan is a compromised state, with little or no control over its sovereignty!
    Any state that has the begging bowl stretched all the time looking for hand outs with one hand cannot then also make demands with the other. Just does not work!
    The sad part of this whole sordid scenario is that the innocent people of Pakistan are being crushed on both ends. By the terrorists who consider them an extension of the Government and second, by its own politicians who rob them and the country’s treasury while continuing to ask for more assistance meant for the impoverished and the bereaved.Recommend

  • Nov 13, 2010 - 11:04AM

    According to a report published in a section of the press on November 12, that Crisis Management Cell (CMC) had warned Sindh government and law enforcement agencies on August 6 pertaining to a plot of high-level terrorist attack on CID building in Karachi (Nov 12). But their warning ignored by the Sindh government.

    Sadly it has become a trend that whenever intelligence agencies warn the government it either taken lightly or completely ignored. It is pertinent to note that after the terrorist attack on the GHQ on October 10, last year a report was published in a section of the press on October 11,2009 that the Punjab Criminal Investigation Department (CID) had warned about the terrorist attack on the GHQ in a immediate letter signed by the additional home secretary Punjab dated 16th July 2009 addressed to IGP Punjab, additional IGP, Special Branch, Punjab, and all divisional commissioners with its copies to Punjab chief minister, joint director Intelligence Bureau, Lahore, the commander, Military Intelligence, Lahore, the commander, ISI, Lahore, Lahore Corps Headquarters and others. But it was not given any heed which resulted in attack by the terrorists in broad day light on the GHQ on October 10, 2009 in which one Brigadier, one Lt. Col, 5 SSG Commandos and 13 other soldiers were killed and several numbers of military personnel were also taken hostage for about 18 hours.

    It is so ridiculous that despite such warnings about the terrorist attacks the recipients ignore the warning and does not take any action to thwart the expected attacks. As a result life of innocent people is lost and property worth million is destroyed. Although after every such incident a high-level inquiry is ordered by the government to find out the facts and to apportion blame if any but its finding are never made public.

    The problem in our country is that there is no accountability and persons responsible for deaths and destructions in a terrorist attack due to their carelessness are never made accountable.

    The Chief Justice of Pakistan should probe as to why warning given by the Crisis Management Cell to Sindh government about the terrorist’s plot to attack CID office in Karachi three months ago was ignored which resulted in death of so many people.Recommend

  • Nov 13, 2010 - 10:33PM

    @Jafakush

    As for Pakistan, it is being punished for being China ally. Taliban doesn’t have financial capacity to fund massive extensive operations in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sudan, Yemen and Iraq. Do your own research and educate us what you think instead of blaming everything on Taliban. If you have personal issues with Taliban that I cannot help you with

    A very interesting hypotheses indeed. Since you seem to have done 'own research' please throw some light on,

    If Pakistan is being ‘punished for ‘being ‘China ally’, what is the source of punishment for Afghanistan, Sudan, Yemen and Iraq which are also suffering ‘extensive operation’
    If Taliban does not have the fund, then who is behind this, USA?
    If Yes, then is US funding the ISAF and Taliban in Afghanistan ,and Pak Army and TTP in Pakistan, and Iraq Government and Iraq Taliban in Iraq? And according to your ‘own research’ for what purpose?
    If Taliban is not to be blamed for ‘everything’, why are they so eager to claim responsibility? Remember video of the New York bomber with Mehsud, released by TTP.
    Who according to your ‘own research’ is sheltering the Haqqani network in Waziristan? Or does your research establish that there is no Haqqani network at all?
    Recommend

  • Jawad Rehman
    Nov 14, 2010 - 4:01AM

    Where is the resolve and the leadership to permanently wipe out the enemy who carried out this and other horrific attacks? I am sad to say but at times like you deal with terror like Israel, Turkey, and India do – with an iron fist and as one nation. Our Prime Minister and President have ‘condemned’ the attacks, but that is not how you lead your nation out of a crisis that threatens its survival. The country needs its leaders who have the clarity and the strength to respond to tragedies like this with a plan and ability to eliminate the adversary. The country needs its leaders to respond to blows like this with ferocity, agility, and unwavering resolve. We need to be proactive, rooting out their tentacles in cities, and factories in the tribal areas. Anybody suspected of connections with the Taliban, LeJ, Alqaeda, LeT, SSP etc should be investigated and brought to justice. Take the fight to them, and eliminate those who claim responsibility for this, their allies, and their sympathizers. There is no other way to deal with these barbarians.
    And folks, there is no need to be despondent – this may be a long fight, but we will survive, Inshallah. Sri Lanka fought a civil war for 25 years with the founders of modern suicide bombings (LTTE), and finally eliminated them. We will do the same. And soonRecommend

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