The principal of a girls’ school was shot dead and six students were hurt in a brazen bomb and gun attack in Ittehad Town, a neighbourhood in Baldia Town, on Saturday. The girls were all aged between eight and 10.
The Nation High School was midway through an award distribution ceremony on its result day, when at 10:45am two motorcyclists lobbed a grenade at its main wall, which collapsed after the blast. The militants then barged inside and fired a volley of bullets, police said.
The victims were taken to the Civil Hospital Karachi and the nearby Murshid Hospital, where the principal succumbed to his injuries, Ittehad Town SDPO Rustam Nawaz said.
SSP West Asif Ijaz Sheikh said one of the suspects was aged between 30 and 32 and had a beard. He was wearing a dark brown shalwar kameez, according to some eyewitnesses.
The slain headmaster, 55-year-old Abdul Rasheed Khan, was also the Awami National Party’s (ANP) vice-president for district west and may have been killed by militants of a banned outfit, investigators said.
The injured students were identified as Tahira, 9, Nazia, 8, Rabiya, 10, Atiya, 10, Amina, 10 and Hina, 8. The school in operated in two shifts: for girls in the morning and for boys in the evening.
Police arrived at the school and cordoned off the area. The Bomb Disposal Squad and forensic experts were also called in to collect evidence. According to the experts, the explosives and pellets were packed in a homemade bomb in a tennis ball, while the spent bullet shells were of a .30 pistol.
Khan, who lived in Ittehad Town, had been running the school for the past eight years. All the girls injured in the attack also live in the same area and were Class 7 and 8 students.
The funeral prayer of the deceased was offered in Ittehad Town, where a number of leaders and activists of the ANP were present. He was later buried in the area graveyard. A case was reported by the police.
In recent years, Karachi has witnessed scores of bomb and gun attacks. Gangs controlled by various outfits, including political parties, have been frequently blamed for waves of targeted killings that go on unabated.
A senior police officer, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the attackers targeted Khan because of his association with the ANP. The leadership of the party is already on the target of the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. The officer termed the school attack a part of the chain of attacks on ANP activists.
The ANP has a tense relationship with the Pakistani Taliban. Militants have targeted several party leaders, including Bashir Bilour, a senior politician, who died in a suicide bombing in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa in December last year.
Unconfirmed reports suggested that the slain principal had been receiving death threats for a long time. Further investigations are under way.
Police chief calls report
The police have been ordered to collect every possible evidence from the Ittehad Town school, which was attacked by militants.
Taking note of the grenade attack on the school, Sindh IGP Shahid Nadeem Baloch has sought a detailed inquiry report on the matter.
He also ordered all zonal DIGs and SSPs to take every possible measure for the security of schools, mosques, imambargahs, shrines, consulates and other government buildings.
A man was killed and a teacher and seven students were injured after a grenade thrown inside the school went off. The explosion was followed by gunfire targeting the school.
The Awami National Party (ANP) condemned the killing of the party’s vice president of District West and school principal, Abdul Rasheed Khan.
In a statement issued here, President ANP (Sindh) Shahi Syed demanded of the chief justice of Pakistan to take suo moto notice of the attack on the school during its prize distribution ceremony and the killing of its principal.
The funeral prayer for Rasheed Khan was offered at Rehmania Mosque near an X-10 bus stop in Ittehad Town.
Shahi Syed said that Khan had recently nominated Saifullah Afridi as a candidate for PS-90 for the upcoming general election.
Meanwhile, President ANP Asfandyar Wali Khan also expressed deep sorrow over the killing of Khan and demanded an independent inquiry and early arrest of the culprits.
Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain also deplored the killing of the school principal in the grenade attack for refusing to pay extortion money.
He expressed his grief over the killing of the principal and the wounding of several students, and said the terrorists had no regard even for the sanctity of educational institutions.
Hussain said the peace-loving citizens must raise their voice against the dastardly attack. He prayed for the speedy recovery of the wounded students and for the divine blessings on the soul of the principle.