Six armed terrorist of outlawed Jundullah got four of their accomplices freed from police custody after they attacked the security personnel with hand grenades in the City Courts of Karachi on Saturday. A police constable and an under-trial prisoner lost their lives in the exchange of fire.The four freed men were being tried, among other cases, Â for the suicide attack on an 8th, 9th and Ashura mourning procession of the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (AS) grand son of holy Prophet Mohammad in December last year that martyred more than 40 people.
The 10-minute episode, which saw a shootout between police and the fleeing terrorists, left people in and around the courts in a daze. Shopkeepers in the cityâ€™s busiest commercial area downed shutters as the daring attempt set off a wave of panic.
The attack took place at 3.15pm when the four suspects — Shah Murad, Murtaza Inayat, Mohammad Wazeer and Shakeeb Farooqi — were being escorted by police to the ground floor after a hearing.
As the suspects were taking rest, two policemen guarding them, four men emerged, threw a hand grenade and opened fire, killing Mohammad Shahbaz, a constable.
The attackers fled along with the four suspects. According to Iqbal Mahmood, the DIG South, they belonged to the Jundullah group.
Advocate Riaz Afandi, an eyewitness, said he saw the armed men, in shalwar-kameez, running away with the suspects.
â€œThree hand grenades were thrown in separate places of the court which suggested that the attackers were not concentrated in one place. They were believed to be all around the building and kept shooting for a few minutes,â€ he added.
Investigators believed that the attackers and the suspects escaped separately on different directions using different mode of transportation.
â€œOne of the fleeing suspects, Shah Murad, was killed by our chasing party in Jodia Bazaar,â€ DIG Mahmood said.
But an official, who examined the body of Murad, said he died after the hand-grenade he was carrying went off. â€œWe donâ€™t know whether itâ€™s a suicide attempt or the pin of the grenade went off unintentionally when he was exchanging fire with policemen,â€ he added.
His findings matched the initial report of medico legal officials at the Civil Hospital. It said the lower torso of Murad was blown away with the force of explosion.
â€œWe also received three injured — Abdul Kalam, Sarfaraz Hussain and Usman — who were hit by bullets. Two of them are stable, but Hussain is in critical condition because he suffered a bullet wound in his head,â€ a medico legal officer said. The four suspects, all in their mid and late 20s, were arrested in January by the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) on Hawkesbay Road in Mauripur, allegedly after a shootout. They were facing 11 cases, including three consecutive bomb blasts on the 8th, 9th and 10th of Muharram.
â€œThe suspects are in fact third tier of Jundullah,â€ said SIU SP Raja Umar Khattab, who was appointed head of a police team tasked to arrest the attackers and the suspects. He said the terrorist group was involved in attacks on policemen and bank robberies.
The SP said two of the suspects snatched a motorcycle after leaving the City Courts premises. The bike was recovered in Risala area.
â€œThe owner of the motorcycle told us that two injured armed men snatched the bike on gunpoint. This suggests that at least two attackers were injured during the encounter with police, SP Khattab said, adding that initial findings suggested that four to six armed men were involved in the attack.
City police chief Waseem Ahmed said that there were no surveillance cameras in City Courts and several entrances to the premises were kept open despite concerns raised several times.
â€œThese arrangements should be made by the court administration and the institutions concerned. We are already short of strength and the number of personnel deployed at the court is within available resources,â€ he added.
He said there was also a question mark on the information provided by the jail authorities about the four suspects before they were handed over to police for producing them before the respective court.
â€œFor such dangerous suspects, we make special security arrangements under the guidance of the jail authorities. In this case, such information has not been passed on.â€
The city police chief said that a committee, headed by the DIG south, had been set up to look into the matter.
The attack on the City Courts by men carrying hand grenades and sophisticated weapons on Saturday, who ran away with their undertrial aides facing trial in the Ashura blast and other high-profile cases, put a question mark over the security arrangements on the sensitive premises.