Lyari operation – Day 4: Over 20 gangwar suspects arrested

KARACHI: The police arrested around 20 suspects belonging to the Lyari Gangwar on Monday during the fourth day of the operation against criminal elements in the area, reportedExpress News.

The suspects include Javed, Shehzad, Shahid, Rizwan, Riaz, Mushtaq Khan, Abdul Aziz, Asif and others. The police claims that some of them even have bounty on their heads.

The overall death toll during the police operation reached 24 on Monday.

Families from the area continued to leave to move to safer locations as tension prevailed in the area.

Very few police personnel were seen present at Cheel Chowk in the morning, while no senior officers were present to lead them. It has been reported that the senior officials will arrive after attending the funeral of a police officer who had been killed earlier.

Markets in the area remain closed and many homes are reported to be without food, water and electricity.

Police had earlier cleared Nawa Lane and taken control of the area. Police had also claimed that the areas of Afshani Gali, Gul Mohammad Lane and Saifi Lane had been taken under control, but residents have refuted the claim and said that only Nawa Lane and some lanes of Cheel Chowk have been taken under control.

Protestors block ICI Bridge

Police resorted to baton-charging and using teargas after protestors blocked ICI Bridge, causing a traffic jam in the area.

The protestors had gathered on the bridge and were demanding that the operation in Lyari be stopped immediately. Police had let the protestors continue their demonstration for a little while and were forced to resort to aerial firing after they refused to leave.

More police personnel were called in control the situation.

Three killed in Sher Shah firing

Motorcyclists attacked two passenger buses in the Sher Shah area, critically injuring five passengers on board, three of whom passed away before reaching the hospital.

Two of the injured are reported to be in critical condition, and one of the injured has been identified as a police official who was on duty at the time of the incident.

In separate incidents, two coaches and a car were torched near Punkha Hotel.

Nine accomplices of Ahmed Ali Magsi arrested

Nine accomplices of a most-wanted criminal of banned Peoples Aman Committee, Ahmed Ali Magsi, were arrested by the police in the Liaquatabad area of Karachi on Monday.

A huge cache of arms and ammunition was also recovered during the police operation.

SP Special Investigation Unit (SIU) Khurram Waris told the media that a two-hour long operation was carried out at five in the morning in the Ilyas Goth area, and added that two suspects were also injured during an exchange of fire.

According to Waris, the suspects were involved in acts of murder, kidnapping for ransom and extortion, and have also confessed of killing crime branch officer Imran Baloch and his brother Sajjad.

Two Kalashnikov, two hand grenades, six pistols and one repeater was recovered from the suspects, said the police.


Battlefield Lyari: Young ‘collaborators’ guide the police through narrow lanes

KARACHI: It is 8 pm and Lyari is pitch black because the gangsters have blown up all the PMTs by firing at the electricity poles. There is an eerie silence as the policemen wait in nervous anticipation of the next onslaught by the gangsters and whisper about their next moves.

The road between Cheel Chowk and Ghas Mandi Chowk is full of nearly 1,500 policemen, mobiles, armoured personnel carriers (APCs), two APC tanks, ambulances and the media.

At a time, around 100 to 150 policemen venture inside the narrow gulleys of Kalakot. With them are slim young men in trousers, t-shirts and scarves wrapped around their faces. They go inside with the policemen to help them navigate the labyrinth of narrow lanes while some sit outside and keep an eye on whoever comes out of the cordoned off area. Since Saturday, the residents have been leaving the area by droves because there is no water, food, or electricity and they have been imprisoned in their homes.

Some say that they are Arshad Pappu’s men while others say that they are from the Kutchi Rabita Committee, a rival of the Peoples Amn Committee.

Since Sunday morning the gangsters and law enforcement personnel, including Anti-Extremist Cell, Crime Investigation Department, Frontier Constabulary, Rapid Response Force and Special Protection Group have been fighting a pitched battle. They have been attacked by eight rockets, 20 hand grenades and Awans – a clever invention of the Lyari gangsters. An Awan is a combination of a grenade and a rocket launcher. In the midst of all this chaos, the Rangers are conspicuous by their absence.

The gangsters have been able to push the forces back towards Cheel Chowk and reclaim Nawa Lane and Afshani Gali, the areas which the police had claimed on Saturday to have cleared of the gangsters.

The APC tanks which the police had especially called for the operation do not seem to be helping as well. They keep breaking down, the policemen have difficulty in driving them since they are not used to it and they are not exactly bulletproof. A policeman was even shot and injured while sitting inside one of these APC tanks. Most importantly, these tanks are too big for the narrow lanes of Lyari.

According to one policeman who lives in the area and is also a part of the operation, there are three or four gangsters in each lane and about five more at the pickets set up at corners for back up. At first, the police and gangster fight a verbal battle, when the policemen go inside and come face to face with the gangsters, as both shout profanities at each other. More often than not, as has been the case, policemen come back without achieving anything.  “Even the APCs can’t enter the narrow lanes. We can only target the gangsters when we have some sort of cover,” he says. “They have light machine guns and G3 rifles and there are snipers inside. They first shoot at our vehicles then corner us.”

The injured men are put in ambulances and then driven to hospitals. But interestingly, none of the gangsters who were killed or injured have come out of the area which leads the police to suspect that the gangsters have also stocked up on medicines and first aid with the weapons.

But only Chhipa ambulances are allowed inside because the security forces believe that the Edhi ambulances, many of whose drivers are Baloch, might be helping the gangsters.

On Saturday, many frustrated and sceptical policemen threatened to quit if the operation kept continuing the operation without a plan. SSP Chaudhry Aslam of the Anti-Extremist Cell told The Express Tribunethat the forces had information that the PAC men were in Lyari. “We tracked them using their cell phones. It is accurate up to one kilometre. Now we have to pinpoint their exact location,” he said. “I cannot give a time frame because we don’t know how many days the operation will take.”

Published in The Express Tribune, April 30th, 2012.

Baloch solidarity: ‘Ek Lyari sab per bhari’, chant protesters

KARACHI: Hundreds of Baloch Colony residents blocked the Shaheed-e-Millat Expressway on Sunday in protest against the ongoing police operation in Lyari.

Young men blocked the road for more than an hour and burnt tyres while women and children chanted slogans against the Pakistan Peoples Party’s government.

“We have cousins and friends who live in Lyari and they have run out of food,” said Baloch Colony resident, Iqbal. “There are gangsters on one side and policemen on the other, but what about the innocent people getting killed?”

The traffic coming from Korangi, Defence Housing Authority and Shahrae Faisal was forced to turn back. The few policemen present at the scene reportedly did not intervene.

Many families from the disturbed area of Lyari have moved in with relatives living in Baloch-dominated localities. Their plight and the news of police action have spread anger among the Baloch.

“We know that there are criminals and gangsters in Lyari but when will the police take action against those hiding in Orangi or New Karachi,” asked another resident, Yaseen Baloch.

Among the protests, there was cheering for the leader of the banned Peoples Amn Committee, Uzair Jan Baloch, one of the main targets of the police action. “Ek Lyari sab per bhari,” shouted the people, followed by, “Uzair Baloch zindabad, Uzair Bhai zindabad.”

Protests also took place at Jehangir Road, Baloch Para, Soldier Bazaar and Malir but authorities insisted that people were forced to come out of their homes. “The police action is against criminals, not any particular party or group,” clarified the south zone deputy commissioner, Jamal Mustafa Qazi, saying that these were attempts to keep the police out of Lyari. “These criminals are encouraging people to protest by giving the operation an ethnic angle.”

Published in The Express Tribune, April 30th, 2012.

Operation against gangsters: SHO among 11 killed as Lyari battles heat up

KARACHI: At least 11 people, among them two police officials, were killed and scores more were wounded as police fought pitched battles with gangsters in the Lyari town of Karachi on Saturday.

Thirty-six people – including 28 civilians, four policemen and as many gangsters – have been killed since April 2 when the police moved into the infamous neighbourhood to take out gangsters blamed for a bloody gang war in the area.

On Saturday, gangsters lobbed hand grenades and fired rockets at the police and their vehicles who tried to enter the labyrinthine of Lyari’s streets. Over 20 grenades and rockets were fired, most of which missed their targets. At least two houses and a gas pipeline were destroyed.

Tuesday’s fatalities included the station house officer of Civil Line police station, a constable and gangster. The rest were all innocent civilians, mostly passersby.

Several armoured personnel carriers (APCs) have been destroyed in attacks from gangsters since the operation began. Police have got reinforcements from interior of Sindh.

The Express Tribune has learnt that local gangster groups, headed by Arshad Pappu and Ghaffar Zikri, with their 600 armed fighters, is aiding the police action against their rival Baba Ladla Group, or Peoples Amn Committee, which has been banned by the government.

Masked gangsters have been seen roaming with the police on Lyari’s streets where they fought gunbattles with gangsters.

Meanwhile, Uzair Jan Baloch, former chief of Peoples Amn Committee, announced on Saturday that he was quitting the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in protest against the police action.

Anger at the PPP, which considers Lyari a stronghold and has consistently won elections from the area, has been simmering for years.

Finally Uzair Jan, PPP activist Habib Jan Baloch and former PAC leader, Zafar Baloch, announced their departure from the party. Lyari’s residents also burnt PPP flags and accused the party of victimisation.

Provincial police chief Mushtaq Shah said that the operation would continue until all criminals and gangsters were flushed out from Lyari. He added that the police would not allow gangsters to escape from the neighbourhood.

Scores of residents of Lyari, caught up in fighting between police and gangsters, have started shifting to safer places due to food shortages and suspension of gas, electricity and water supplies.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 29th, 2012.

KARACHI: Lyari remained under siege for a third consecutive day on Sunday with at least four more persons, including a policeman, killed in pitched battles between law-enforcement personnel and heavily armed gangsters.

The day-long violence also left several persons, including two DSPs and as many mediapersons, wounded.

Top leaders of the banned People’s Amn Committee decided to become more vocal on Sunday as they contacted several mediapersons on their cellphones and also participated in some television talk shows through a remote video link.

In a related development, Inspector General of Sindh Mushtaq Shah put all other units of the crime investigation department (CID) under the direct command of CID SP Aslam Khan asking them to assist him in the ongoing Lyari operation.

Senior police officials claimed that they regained control of major areas in Lyari. However, PAC leader Zafar Baloch contradicted the police claim, saying they had not been able to take control of even one inch of Lyari.

Some area residents told Dawn that gangsters such as Mullah Nisar and Tajdar alias Taju and their men were still in the area, busy attacking the police. Other gangsters, including Noor Muhammad alias Baba Ladla and Jabbar alias Jingu, were still holding their positions in their respective areas.

On Sunday, armed men taking positions on rooftops targeted the police and mediapersons present at Cheel Chowk and at the same time a rocket was also fired, which resulted in injuries to policemen and some mediapersons. Eight people, including two cameramen of private television channels, were wounded in the attack.

The wounded were identified as Assistant Sub-Inspector Aleem Niazi, Constables Fayyaz Ahmed, Naveed, Imran, Sajid, cameramen Asif of Express television channel and Arif Ali of Dhoom television, and Kashif, a charity worker.

They were rushed to the Civil Hospital Karachi, where Constable Fayyaz died during treatment.

In another incident, a man identified as Kashif, 25, was shot dead in Nawalane within the remit of the Kalakot police station. The victim’s family member took away the body without completing any medico-legal formalities at the Civil Hospital.

In Afshani Gali, a young man, identified as Asghar, was killed and his father, Yousuf, was wounded when they were hit by bullets fired from unknown directions.

DSP Abdul Razzak and DSP Nawaz were also wounded during an exchange of gunfire in the Nawalane area.

DSP Nasir Lodhi of the Special Police Group claimed that Sajid alias Gabber, a brother-in-law of Baba Ladla, was killed near Gabol Park. However, the whereabouts of his body were not clear, he added.

In another attack, constables Kashif and Khalid and 18-year-old Ghazal were wounded near Nawalane. They were shifted to the Civil Hospital for treatment.

DSP Lodhi said the police faced massive resistance in Lyari and gangster used rockets, light machineguns, hand-grenades and an improvised rocket, invented by the Lyari gangsters.

Meanwhile, the Sindh home department directed the police to intensify the operation in Lyari and arrest eight key Lyari gangsters dead or alive.

Those wanted by the department are Noor Muhammad alias Baba Ladla, Jabbar alias Jingo, Umer Katchi, Tajdar alias Taju, Shahid MCB, Zafar Baloch, Uzair Jan Baloch and Habib Baloch.

Protest rallies

Residents of Lyari took out processions in protest against the police operation and demanded an immediate halt to it.

Protests were held in the Albela Signal, Mauripur Road, Gurumandir, Kalapul and Nishtar Road areas.

The protesters also set on fire flags of the Pakistan People’s Party.

The Sindh police chief visited the Civil Hospital on Sunday evening. He said the police would rid Lyari of criminals in the next two to three days.

He said a number of terrorists had been killed in the Lyari operation, but the gangsters were shifting their bodies in private ambulances.

Answering a question, he said the police were in touch with the Rangers and as part of a strategy the paramilitary force had not been called in. “We will seek their help when a need arises,” he added.

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