KARACHI - A Taliban bomb in Karachi killed one of country’s best-known police commanders, famed for his fearless anti-terrorism operations in the city.
Chaudhry Aslam, the head of the criminal investigation department (CID) who had survived numerous assassination attempts in the past, died on Thursday along with his guard and driver when a bomb hit a police convoy on Lyari Express Way in eastern Karachi.
Initial reports said a suicide bomber smashed his vehicle into Aslam’s convoy near Essa Nagri area of Gulshan-e-Iqbal, but latter the investigators said they believed the bomb was planted on the way and exploded through remote control.
Two out of four vehicles of the convoy were completely ruined in the explosion and 11 persons were wounded, besides the martyrdom of Aslam and his two associates. The powerful blast threw the shattered wreckage of Aslam’s vehicle some 20 metres from where it was hit. Television channels showed the scene, with Aslam’s mangled SUV. A large number of officers were at the scene, with members of the public being kept back behind tape.
Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistani (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack, warning others who target them that they would meet the same fate. “We have killed Chaudhry Aslam and claim the responsibility of his killing,” spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told a foreign news agency over the phone.
SP Aslam Khan known as Chudhary Aslam was on his way to CID counter terrorism office located at Garden Police headquarters when the attack came. Investigators said that Khan mostly used the same route to reach the office, first taking the Shahrah-e-Faisal, then Stadium Road to reach Express Way from where he would proceed to Garden area.
He ran an elaborate intelligence network across Karachi’s complex web of alliances and bitter, bloody rivalries. Earlier on Thursday Aslam claimed the killing of three suspected members of the Pakistani Taliban in an encounter in the city.
One of his colleagues, senior officer Raja Umar Khatab, said it appeared the attackers had carried out a comprehensive recce in preparation for the attack. Khatab said Aslam had been receiving threats from the TTP as well as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, another militant organisation that carried out some of the bloodiest sectarian attacks in the country last year.
“We attacked him earlier also but he survived. He has killed, tortured and wounded our mujahideen friends... finally, we have sent him towards his end.... We warn other police and security officials who are brutal to and torture the mujahideen that their fate will be no different,” the TTP spokesman declared.
Aslam had been targeted so many times that he bore an air of apparent indestructibility. Last year his vehicle was targeted at the same place where he was killed in Thursday’s blast. In September 2011, militants carried out a huge explosion that tore off the front of his house. After that attack, Aslam made a defiant appearance before the media, saying: “I will give my life but I won’t bow to terrorists.” In 2010, militants blew up the head office of the Karachi CID in an attempt to kill him. Each time he seemed to brush off the danger.
Since 2008, the 30-year veteran had taken on and taken out countless numbers of criminals, including the 2010 killing Rehman Dakait, a notorious gangster from Balochistan. Since 2010 he had been serving as head of the city’s anti-terror unit. Often working through the night and typically armed with a Glock pistol, he had received countless awards for his work. In March last year he was awarded the Tamgha-i-Imtiaz award by the president. He also claimed to have received hundreds of thousands of pounds in reward money.
Police are currently involved in an operation aimed at clearing Karachi of militants and hardcore criminals. Around 2,000 people were killed in violence linked to ethnic and political tensions in 2012, the highest toll in two decades. There have been fears of growing Taliban presence in the city of 18 million people.