Monday June 27, 2022

KU attack: Probe stalls as two crucial suspects yet to be traced

May 03, 2022

KARACHI: Investigation into the University of Karachi suicide blast seems to have stalled as two crucial suspects in the case – the suicide bomber’s husband and an unidentified woman caught in CCTV camera with whom the alleged bomber had talked shortly before the blast – are yet to be traced.

Whereas Shari Baloch’s husband was identified as Dr Habitan who shortly after the blast had posted his picture with his wife and children showing a victory sign, the mysterious woman who appeared in CCTV footage is yet to be identified. It is still not known if she had any link with Shari or it was just a casual conversation between two strangers that was caught by the CCTV camera. If she was linked with Shari in the terror plan is a matter of concern.

“There is 100 percent role of Shari Baloch’s husband in the bombing. Her husband is a handler and a prime suspect who has gone underground following the attack,” Sindh Police Counter-Terrorism Department chief DIG Khurram Ali Shah told The News. “We are looking for him [Habitan] as his arrest is top priority,” replied CTD DIG when asked about reports that Habitan along with his children had already escaped to Afghanistan.

The mysterious role of the woman in a white headgear is also being established. The attacker got off the rickshaw and stood some distance away and the other woman came and started talking. After this, the attacker crossed the road to wait for the van. “It is yet to be established either she was associated with Shari Baloch or she was just a stranger as dots are not connecting to establish a link between them so far but nothing could be said exactly until the investigation is completed,” DIG Khurram Ali Shah explained.

There were reports that the security agencies have detained a student of the University of Karachi during a raid in Gulshan-e-Iqbal. However, CTD DIG denied any such arrest. “Some suspects have been rounded up during the raids but no such arrest has been made so far,” he claimed.

Replying to a question about a recent video of Shari Baloch released by outlawed Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) and more potential attacks by BLA in Karachi and what their next target could be, the CTD chief said that everything was in progress. “We are also taking initiatives to know their modus operandi, their activities, facilitators, operatives and their next targets and, therefore, we are also strictly monitoring the social media to compile a list of those who are supporting them through social media accounts,” the officer explained.

The investigators have so far traced and sealed three residences of Shari Baloch, Habitan Baloch and Shari Baloch’s father in Karachi – Gulistan-e-Jauhar, Dehli Colony and Scheme 33, respectively. During the raids, the investigators also recovered important evidence from the laptops, CCTV footages and statements of the residents of the areas.

With statements and CCTV footages, the geo-fencing of the routes, used by the suicide bomber and her husband – from Dehli Colony to Gulistan-e-Jauhar to Scheme 33 to University of Karachi – is in the final stage. “It is taking time as a very big area is being covered in the geo-fencing,” a senior police investigator who wished not be named said while hoping to get important clues from geo-fencing. “We are also trying to trace and identify the facilitators and those to whom they [Shari and Habitan] used to meet or visit with the help of statements and CCTV footages.” The officer said that the data of the visitors of Habitan Baloch while he was staying at a hotel on Sharae Faisal is also being gathered with the help of CCTV footage.

A new CCTV footage outside the Chinese language Centre at University of Karachi went viral on the internet which showed that Shari Baloch had also come a day prior to the blast but most probably she failed to blow herself up, raising questions on the lack of security arrangements.

After releasing the picture of Shari Baloch shortly after the blast, the BLA on Saturday also released the video of Shari Baloch which she had recorded before carrying out the attack, inciting the women of Balochistan. The video showed that she was walking in the garden somewhere, showing a victory sign in different poses. In a 2:19 minute video in Balochi language with English sub-title, Shari Baloch wearing black headgear with a BLA flag in the background, seemed comfortable, inciting women to join the organisation.