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September 20, 2020

Police constable Tanoli’s martyrdom may be a sign of TTP’s return


September 20, 2020

Police constable Arif Khan Tanoli, who was murdered in Korangi on Friday, was laid to rest on Saturday. And with his martyrdom, Karachi may have witnessed the return of a banned terrorist group, namely the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

The first five years of the Karachi operation were relatively peaceful, as they saw the numbers of bomb blasts, target killings, kidnappings for ransom and other serious crimes drop.

However, the operation failed to put a permanent stop to terrorism in the city, as is evident from the situation in the past couple of years that have witnessed its gradual rise.

Several major and minor incidents of terrorism have been carried out in the city in these last couple of years, including the attacks on the Chinese consulate and the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) as well as several bomb attacks.

This year alone the city has witnessed the PSX attack, seven hand grenade attacks on the Rangers, the police and the Jamaat-e-Islami’s Kashmir rally, and murders of five police officials.

The investigators of these terrorist acts had been sure about the involvement of Sindhi and Baloch nationalist parties in the Chinese consulate, PSX and grenade attacks, but they had been not too sure about the group behind the murders of police officials.

However, the TTP claiming responsibility for murdering constable Tanoli has led the officials to believe that the terrorist group may have been behind the series of attacks on policemen in Karachi.

“The statement released by the TTP claiming responsibility for murdering the policeman in Karachi seems authentic,” senior counterterrorism expert Raja Umer Khattab told The News. “It’s an alarming situation if the TTP exists in the city and its sleeper cells are operating and attacking police officials.

The officer said that this may be only the beginning for the TTP, as they may already be planning major terrorism activities. He added that the only solution is to intensify action against terrorists before they get opportunities to strengthen.

PC Tanoli

Tanoli was the fifth policeman to have been murdered in a targeted attack in the city in recent months. Posted at Madadgar 15, he was shot and injured by two men near Mehran Town.

His assailants had targeted him while he was on his way to work. He was being taken to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre when he succumbed to his injuries.

The Counter Terrorism Department’s Civil Lines police station registered FIR No. 134/20 under Section 302/34 of the Pakistan Penal Code and Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act against two hitherto unidentified motorcyclists.

‘Familiar ground’

This is the first time the TTP has claimed responsibility for a crime in Karachi since the Karachi operation began on September 5, 2013, especially in recent months.

Though five policemen have been murdered in the city in recent months, this is the first time a terrorist group has claimed responsibility for such a crime in the city.

Khattab said the TTP claiming responsibility for the latest murder confirms their involvement. “The area where this constable was martyred had once been dominated by the terrorist group.” Investigators believe a group of trained target killers is operating in the city. “One or two sleeper cells may be operating in the city to target cops,” said Khattab.

“There are several similarities in these cases: the assailants target their victims after conducting proper recce, they shoot them in the head and they escape with their weapons.”

This sleeper cell seems similar to those gangs that were busted for their involvement in the murder of traffic police constable Khan Muhammad on Abul Hassan Ispahani Road in July 2017 and the murders of three policemen in Korangi, said the officer.

Funeral prayers

The funeral prayers of constable Tanoli were offered at the Special Security Unit (SSU) headquarters. A police contingent presented the guard of honour to the martyred policeman on the occasion. Tanoli had joined the police department in April 2017 as a constable. He is survived by a wife and a daughter.

His funeral prayers were attended by Sindh police chief Mushtaq Mahar, Karachi police chief Ghulam Nabi Memon, Security & Emergency Services Division DIG Maqsood Ahmed, the zonal DIGs and SSPs, SSU Commandant Irfan Mukhtar Bhutto, Madadgar 15 SP Abdullah Memon and other senior officers.

On the occasion, DIG Ahmed ordered support for the family of the martyred police constable, saying that all the necessary legal formalities should be completed as soon as possible for the family to receive compensation for their loss.