Eight killed as Pakistan anti-terror cop targeted

2011-09-19 07:28

Karachi – A car-borne Taliban suicide bomber flattened the house of a senior counter-terrorism police officer in Pakistan’s financial capital Karachi today, killing eight people including six police officers.

Senior Superintendent Aslam Khan, who was unhurt in the attack but whose home was destroyed, told AFP he had been threatened by the Pakistani Taliban – which is allied to al-Qaeda – and that he was the target.

He said: “It was a car bomb attack on my house,” he said. “I was receiving threats from Tehreek-e-Taliban. Taliban are involved in this attack.”

Khan heads the counter-terrorism unit of the Police Crime Investigation Department in Karachi, investigating Islamist militant cells in the city.

Several neighbouring houses were also wrecked in the attack, private Pakistan TV channels showed, with four cars being badly damaged and a 2m-deep crater left in front of Khan’s home.

An AFP reporter at scene saw rubble, mud and pieces of glass scattered over a large area in the upscale residential neighbourhood.

“Eight people including six policemen have been killed and several others were wounded,” Shoukat Hussain, another senior police officer, told AFP. “A child and a woman were also killed.
“It was a car suicide attack,” Hussain added.

Speaking to reporters outside the remains of his one-storey bungalow, Khan said: “I woke up from sleep and saw fire around. I ran towards the other rooms of the house and saw my family safe but bewildered. This was a cowardly act of Taliban. I am not scared of Taliban. Let me tell you that I will not spare them in future.”

Saud Mirza, another senior police officer, confirmed that Khan had previously been threatened by the Pakistani Taliban and had recently received a written threat.

Witness Naeem Shaikh said he was taking his children to school when he heard a huge explosion.
“I went across a lane and saw this house destroyed and huge flames around it,” said Shaikh, who lives in the area.

He saw the bodies of a boy, later identified as a second-year school pupil, and his mother lying near the house. The boy’s schoolbag was lying shattered nearby,” Shaikh said, choking.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombing.

Nearly 4 700 people have been killed across Pakistan in attacks blamed on Taliban and al-Qaeda-linked networks based in the country’s northwestern tribal belt since government troops stormed a radical mosque in Islamabad in 2007.

On Thursday, a bomber killed 46 people when he blew himself up in a crowd of mourners as they gathered for prayers in the northwestern town of Jandol, 100km from the once Taliban-infested Swat Valley.

Karachi, Pakistan’s economic hub, is currently undergoing its worst ethnic- and politically-linked unrest in 16 years, with more than 100 people killed in one week alone last month.

The gang wars have been linked to ethnic tensions between the Mohajirs, the Urdu-speaking majority represented by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), and Pashtun migrants affiliated to the rival Awami National Party (ANP).

The nationally ruling Pakistan People’s Party, which was elected in 2008 after nine years of military rule, insists that civilian authorities are capable of controlling the bloodshed, despite calls for military intervention.

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