Thursday, January 10, 2013

Same weapons being used in Karachi violence

Same Weapons Being Used in Karachi Violence
Imran Ayub, Dawn, December 28, 2012

KARACHI: As the city descends into fear amid a renewed wave of killings, the police authorities see one or more organised groups behind what was earlier being called ‘tit-for-tat sectarian attacks’ as forensic investigations into nearly 90 cases found that same weapons had been used in targeting people from different sects and political parties, it emerged on Thursday.

A top police official confirmed to Dawn that under forensic findings it seemed ‘crystal clear’ that the recent wave of killings had nothing to do with sectarian rivalry rather it was an attempt to ‘destabilise the city peace’ to achieve ‘certain targets’.

However, the real face of a ‘third force’ still remains a mystery for both the authorities and police investigators.

“There is definitely a third force,” Sindh IG Fayyaz Ahmed Leghari told Dawn. “It’s not yet ascertained that it’s external or internal as no major arrest has been made on these lines.”

He said: “But it has nothing to do with sectarian differences. If they were the cause, you would have been witnessing violence in every street of the country.”

Asked about reasons for his confidence about the ‘third force’ involved in the killings, he based his conclusion on findings of forensic investigations into a number of recent incidents that had earlier been described as sectarian killings.

“For instance, we have found that the weapon used in one targeted attack was also used in another,” said IG Leghari.

He explained that on Nov 29, a young couple, Iqbal Hussain and Dilshad Fatima who were employees of the Karachi Institute of Radiotherapy and Nuclear Medicine (KIRAN), was gunned down near Safoora Goth and the following day another man, Nazar Abbas, was killed on Shaheed-i-Millat Road whose 12-year-old daughter, Mehzar Zehra, was wounded in the attack.

The police investigators and the media then suspected sectarian motives for both attacks as all the victims belonged to the Shia sect, he said.

However, he added, the Dec 3 killing of a seminary teacher off Abul Hasan Ispahani Road and forensic analysis of spent bullet casings one after another incident told a different story.

“On Dec 3, Maulana Mufti Mohammad Ismail of Madressah Ahsan-ul-Uloom was shot dead, off Abul Hasan Ispahani Road. Interestingly, the forensic examination in all these cases suggested that the same weapon was used in all three shootings,” said IG Leghari, reiterating that it was for this reason that the police believed “it’s not the sectarian violence or shooting on an ideological basis”.

Violence returned to the city mainly in the second quarter of 2012 with frequent killings and targeted attacks apparently on sectarian grounds after a gap of some months when Karachi started limping back to normality after the Supreme Court of Pakistan had taken suo motu notice of series of killings.

Many people belonging to the Shia sect — with a significant number of them from same families — lost their lives to the menace. Similarly, a number of men belonging to the Sunni sect, including seminary students and teachers, were killed in incidents of firing in different parts of the city.

While no serious effort from government quarters was witnessed to track the attackers and expose their motive, the Sindh police forensic division has made some progress on these lines.

“We have digital images of over 7,000 empties [spent bullet casings],” said Additional IG forensic division Muneer Sheikh. He said: “After a forensic analysis so far in some 90 cases this year we have found weapons of different calibers used in the multiple killings. Modern technology is being used for the analysis of every spent bullet casing according to global standards of forensic investigations,” he added.

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