Sabeen targeted for campaign against Lal Masjid cleric

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KARACHI: Police investigators said on Thursday that the four terrorists arrested for killing 45 members of the Shia Ismaili community in a bus attack near Safoora Goth last week told them that they had targeted human rights activist Sabeen Mahmud because of her campaign against Lal Masjid cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz.

The attack on the Ismailis was motivated by sectarian reason, but the arrested, well-educated militants also wanted to create an impact at the international level, Counter-Terrorism Depart-ment (CTD) official Raja Umer Khattab told Dawn. He helped unearth the militant group allegedly involved in a number of other terrorist activities in Karachi and Hyderabad.

 “Crucial evidence found in the bus led to the unearthing of this militant group,” he said, adding that it was not appropriate to share the evidence with media at this moment.

“We have been working on the militant group since April last year, but the latest evidence made our task easy,” Mr Khattab said.

Initially, the CTD official said, the mastermind was reluctant to ‘cooperate’ with the investigators, but when told that police had sufficient information about him, including the name of his daughter and the place of burial of his grandfather, he started revealing facts about the bus attack and other terrorist activities.

Mr Khattab disclosed that Tahir had earlier been arrested over charges of killing a member of the Hindu community in Hyderabad in 2007 in a kidnapping for ransom case, but was later released.

His brother Shahid, also an alleged militant, was recently killed in an alleged encounter by a police team, led by former SSP Malir Rao Anwar, on the outskirts of Karachi. –Dawn

2 GUNNED DOWN: Two Shias were killed and two others injured as gunmen opened fire at their vehicle in Hayatabad area of Peshawar on Friday.

“Unidentified assailants opened fire at a vehicle in which four people were traveling in Hayatabad Phase I,” a police official told The Express Tribune.

“They belonged to the Shia Muslim community and it appears to be a sectarian attack,” the official added.

In February, heavily armed militants stormed a Shia mosque in Hayatabad killing at least 19 people in an attack claimed by the Taliban as revenge for the execution of one of their cadres.

Three attackers with grenades, Kalashnikovs and explosive suicide vests struck at the Imamia mosque at the time of the main Friday prayers.

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