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Policeman killed, another wounded in car ambush as held ‘hitmen’ flee

Policeman killed, another wounded in car ambush as held ‘hitmen’ flee

KARACHI: Two suspected killers of a police official were freed from police custody in a mysterious gun attack that left one policeman dead and another critically wounded while an investigating officer of the case, who claimed his weapon had been ‘missing’ since Friday morning, remained unhurt in the firing.

The three policemen were taking the two suspected killers back to the Korangi police station in a private car of the investigating officer after a hearing of the police official’s murder case at the anti-terrorism court when the firing was carried out along the Malir river at around 5pm, officials said.

The police authorities initially relied on the statement of station investigating officer (SIO) Abdul Wasay, who remained unhurt in the incident, but they found enough evidence to call the entire episode ‘mysterious’. An examination of the four spent bullet casings found at the crime scene showed that the SIO’s official pistol was used in the firing. It also emerged that the firing was carried out from inside the car as no evidence was available to corroborate the SIO’s statement that the firing was carried out by armed motorcyclists.

In the late hours of Friday, “the SIO was taken into custody for interrogation as police investigators were yet to ascertain if he was involved in the attack or it was his mere negligence that resulted in the incident,” said Raja Umer Khattab, the official in charge of transnational terrorism intelligence group of the police counter-terrorism department.

The gun attack drew immediate attention of Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah who sought explanation from the police authorities on ‘flawed security steps’ taken for producing the suspected hitmen before the ATC.

“I want a detailed report and re-arrest of the hitmen,” he said.

The police quoted Korangi SIO Abdul Wasay as saying that he could not find his official pistol in the pouch placed in his private Coure car when he along with the two police constables, Rafiq Ismail and Daim Arbani, reached the Sindh High Court premises to produce the two suspects, Mohammed Imtiaz and Abdul Malik, before the ATC. He called the Korangi police station and lodged a complaint about the ‘missing’ weapon.

According to the police, SIO Wasay added that he along with the two police constables then produced before the ATC the two suspects who were arrested for their alleged involvement in the killing of head constable Yusuf Lodhi in Korangi on Sept 20. He further said that on their way back from the ATC, he was driving the car. “As we reached near the Malir River, two armed motorcyclists opened fire on the car. As a result, both the police constables sustained gunshot wounds. The attackers then snatched the weapons from the wounded policemen and “forcibly” got their two accomplices released,” he said, adding that they threw the SMG at some distance while fleeing.

The wounded policemen were rushed to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre where doctors declared PC Rafiq dead on arrival. Dr Seemin Jamali, head of the JPMC emergency department, said he sustained gunshot wounds in his chest. The other constable was admitted to the intensive care unit as he sustained a gunshot wound in the head, she added.

A senior police officer, who wished not to be named at this stage, told Dawn that it emerged during initial investigation that the SIO Wasay narration of the incident appeared to be ‘concocted’.

The officer said: “The policemen were attacked from inside the car and with the pistol of the SIO.”

The senior officer also questioned as to why the suspected hitmen, who were being taken to the Korangi police station after the ATC had remanded them into police custody, were not handcuffed. Besides, another point to ponder was the fact that the suspects were being taken in SIO’s private car and in the absence of proper security arrangements, he observed.

No FIR of the attack had been registered at the Korangi police station till filing of this report late Friday night.

Published in Dawn, October 1st, 2016

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