Gunned down: Police suspect NHA director was prime target in Sunday night shooting

Bhatti and KMC's Talat Yousuf were on their way home from dinner when they were shot at


Our Correspondent January 19, 2015
The double-cabin vehicle that came under attack on Sunday night. PHOTO: MOHAMMAD NOMAN/EXPRES

KARACHI: Three shots. Two to the neck and one to the stomach left the director of the National Highway Authority (NHA) dead in the driving seat of his double-cabin vehicle on Sunday night. Sitting next to him in the passenger seat was the deputy director of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC). He also died due to a bullet in his lower abdomen.

The police suspect that both men were killed in a premeditated attack but the assailants target was the highway authority's director, Sohail Bhatti.

The incident took place near the Baitul Mukarram Mosque on University Road within the jurisdiction of the Aziz Bhatti police station. Bhatti and Talat Yousuf, who was serving as the KMC's deputy director and overlooking the Lyari Expressway resettlement project, were shot dead by unidentified motorcyclists on Sunday night while driving in a government vehicle.

According to the police, investigations suggest that the NHA director could have been the target as the bullets were shot from his side of the car. "My investigation suggests that the NHA official was the prime target as he was driving the vehicle at the time of the incident and the assailants fired from his side," said District East SSP Pir Muhammad Shah. "Bhatti was shot three times while Yousuf was only shot once." He added that they had been unable to confirm the motive behind the incident. SSP Shah believes that one of the motives could have been a family dispute or Bhatti's career.

He claimed that they were in the initial stages of the investigation and were looking at every possible aspect. The SSP said that empty bullet shells found at the crime scene had been sent to the forensics division and they were waiting for the report.

The police have obtained CCTV footage from the cameras installed along the route taken by Bhatti on Sunday night. So far, they have not been able to find anything suspicious. In the recording obtained from a CCTV camera at Hassan Square, the SHO of the Aziz Bhatti police station, Abbas Kolachi, said that they had identified the victim's vehicle but no motorcycle was seen in the footage. He added that the assailants were probably already present in the area when the incident took place.

To help speed up the investigation process, the police have also started gathering cell phone data of the deceased.

Rest in peace

Fifty-nine-year-old Talat Yousuf was also the brother of Zubair Khan, a journalist associated with Roznama Express and was the son of another journalist, Nazeer Khan. Yousuf leaves behind a wife and three children.

He was on his way home with Bhatti in Gulshan-e-Iqbal after having dinner with some colleagues when they were shot at. Their families claim that they had no personal enmities with anyone. While talking to The Express Tribune, Zubair said that his brother never mentioned that he was receiving any threats.

The police have recorded the families’ statements but no cases was registered till the filing of this report.  The funeral prayers for both men will be offered today (Tuesday).

Published in The Express Tribune, January 20th, 2015.

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