In the second major attack on the Karachi police since January, a traffic cop was martyred on Wednesday in an attack in the Sohrab Goth suburb of the metropolis after a hitherto unidentified man opened fire on him and his subordinate.
Sub-inspector Rafiq Panhwar, 50, and Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) Abdul Hakeem were on patrol in the Ahsanabad locality in the morning when they came under fire. The SITE Super Highway police said they found a total of 18 bullet shell casings of a 9mm pistol at the crime scene.
ASI Hakeem, who was fortunate enough to survive the brazen attack, said a motorbike stopped near them while the two officials were patrolling the area. He said that both the suspects on the two-wheeler were wearing shalwar kameez.
One of them got off the motorcycle and began shooting at the traffic policemen. “I quickly jumped into the nearby bushes,” said the ASI. “They fired multiple shots to kill me as well after I jumped into the bushes.”
Confirming the incident, SSP Shiraz Nazeer told The News that the attackers fled the scene after the attack. “The assailants attacked both police officials, but the survivor remained unhurt because he jumped into the bushes.”
The SSP said Panhwar had suffered at least three bullets, adding that the empties picked up from the site of the attack were sent to the forensic division for ballistics cross-matching.
A police source said that the weapon used in the attack had no record of being used in any previous crime. He said Hizbul Ahrar, a breakaway faction of the militant outfit Jamaatul Ahrar, has claimed responsibility for the attack on social media, but the police are yet to confirm it.
Panhwar was posted at the Gulzar-e-Hijri traffic police section and was a resident of Makhdoom Bilawal Goth in Sachal Goth. He is survived by a wife, four sons and three daughters. His body was later taken to his hometown Naushahro Feroze.
Taking notice of the incident, Sindh police chief IGP Kaleem Imam sought a detailed report from East Zone DIG Amir Farooqi and Traffic DIG Ahmed Ishaque Jehangir. He also directed the Malir SSP to catch the assailants.
Malir Traffic SSP Tahir Noorani told the media that traffic police officials have been withdrawn from all the sensitive points within the district, while the entire force has been provided with bulletproof jackets as well as arms and ammunition.
The Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) has also launched an investigation based on the claim that a militant outfit was behind Wednesday’s attack on the traffic police officials. A total of six policemen have been killed in shoot-outs this year, but Wednesday’s incident was the second major targeted attack. On January 12 Shakir Ahmed was martyred near Landi Kotal in North Nazimabad while on his way to the police station.
The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) had claimed responsibility for the attack. Police, Rangers and the military in Karachi had been on the target of terrorist organisations in the past.
“The Saad Aziz group that was involved in the Safoora carnage, the Asim Capri group, the Special Task Force of the TTP and the Ansarul Sharia remained top of the list among militant organisations and their sleeper cells for carrying out major attacks on police, Rangers and the military in the city,” the CTD’s Raja Omar Khattab told The News. “The MO suggests that a militant group or its sleeper cell was behind Wednesday’s attack.”
Karachi police chief Additional IGP Amir Shaikh claimed that the suspects involved in the attack on the traffic police officials would be arrested soon. He warned of taking strict action against those officials who do not wear the bulletproof vests provided to them.
Last year 35 police officials were martyred in the city. Some of the major attacks included that of four policemen in SITE Area, Traffic DSP Hanif Khan and his gunman in Azizabad, police volunteer at the Northern Bypass, two cops in the Dhoraji area and officials at Sharea Faisal.