While police widened the scope of investigation into Wednesday’s brutal attack on a bus carrying Shia Ismailis, Sindh Rangers claimed to have arrested 145 suspects in targeted operations in the city.
A spokesperson for the paramilitary force said on Thursday that the raids had been conducted in Sohrab Goth, Gulshan-i-Iqbal, Orangi Town and other areas and those held included alleged target killers and members of banned outfits.
The Rangers’ statement did not disclose the identity of the suspects detained. The death toll in the bus attack rose to 45 after two of the injured died on Thursday. Meanwhile, police investigators recorded the statements of two new eyewitnesses and decided to go through the list of suspected militants who were recently released from jails, officials said. Karachi-East DIG Munir Ahmed Shaikh said that a meeting of senior police officers presided over by Sindh IG Ghulam Hyder Jamali at the Central Police Office had decided to investigate the Safoora Goth bus attack from all possible angles, including the involvement of banned outfits, suspected militants released from prisons and its connection with other recent terrorist activities in the city. Mr Shaikh, who is also a member of the investigation team, said the meeting reviewed progress and the IG ordered the team to widen the scope of investigation. The investigators will ascertain possible resemblances of the Safoora Goth incident with recent terrorist activities such as killing of two DSPs, attack on members of the Bohri community and cracker attacks outside some private schools. The meeting also decided to interrogate the recently released militants.
Later, members of the investigation team visited the crime scene and recorded the statements of the two witnesses. They also met the bus conductor who had transported the dead and the injured to Memon Medical Institute/Hospital. In a related development, Additional IG Karachi Ghulam Qadir Thebo, who heads the probe team, called for announcing a reward of Rs20 million (Rs10m each from the provincial and federal governments) for information leading to arrest of the attackers, according to a spokesperson for the city police.
The Sachal police station on whose jurisdiction the incident had taken place is yet to register a case. Counter-Terrorism Department official Raja Umer Khattab told reporters after visiting the crime scene on Thursday that according to some witnesses, four attackers boarded the bus while two or three stayed outside. Most of the 57 passengers had been shot in the head from a close range, he said, adding that 0.9mm pistols and Kalashnikovs were used in the attack.
Meanwhile, Allama Aurangzeb Farooqi, central leader of Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ), alleged that Rangers had detained Shaikh-ul-Hadith Maulana Manzoor Mengal and his 90 students during a raid on his seminary in Gulshan-i-Maymar on Wednesday night. Talking to Dawn, he said the law-enforcers had also taken away ASWJ’s local leader Salahuddin Palari. According to him, Rangers also raided the residences of slain Dr Mohammed Fayaz and Arif in Orangi Town, but no arrest was made. Allama Farooqi said the ASWJ had no ‘dispute’ with members of the Ismaili community. He condemned the Safoora Goth incident and said the terrorists involved in the incident had nothing to do with his organisation. “The world knows who tried to defame religious parties by carrying out recent cracker attacks outside schools in the city,” he said.