Pak­istan po­lice raid scores of sem­i­nar­ies af­ter killings

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Pak­istani po­lice ar­rested dozens of peo­ple in a crack­down on more than 90 sem­i­nar­ies in Karachi, fol­low­ing a se­ries of sec­tar­ian shoot­ings in the coun­try’s largest city, of­fi­cials said yes­ter­day. Pro­vin­cial po­lice chief Al­lah Dino Kh­waja said the crack­down was aimed at both Sunni and Shi­ite sem­i­nar­ies, af­ter at least 10 peo­ple were killed in re­cent at­tacks. On Fri­day, five sup­port­ers of the Sunni Ahle Sun­nat Wal Ja­maat (ASWJ), which ad­vo­cates for Shi­ites to be legally de­clared non-Mus­lim and has a vi­o­lent off­shoot that tar­gets Shi­ite mosques, were killed in drive-by at­tacks in Karachi.

On Oct 29, five mem­bers of the Shi­ite com­mu­nity were shot dead at a re­li­gious gath­er­ing in the city’s North Naz­imabad area, an at­tack claimed by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Al-Alami, one of ASWJ’s off­shoots.

A se­cu­rity of­fi­cial, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymity, said that “dozens” had been ar­rested in the crack­down. Over the week­end, three prom­i­nent lead­ers of the Shi­ite com­mu­nity were picked up by po­lice and para­mil­i­tary Rangers for their al­leged role in the shoot­ings of the ASWJ men on Fri­day.

The ar­rests prompted protests by Shi­ites in the Malir area of Karachi, where demon­stra­tors blocked a road and were forcibly cleared by po­lice fir­ing tear gas, rub­ber bul­lets and au­to­matic weapons. It was not im­me­di­ately clear if there were any ca­su­al­ties.

Po­lice also searched the Sid­diq-e-Ak­bar mosque, con­sid­ered the Karachi head­quar­ters of the ASWJ yes­ter­day. The group’s sec­re­tary-gen­eral, Taj Hanafi, and 10 other sus­pects were de­tained and shifted to an undis­closed lo­ca­tion, said a po­lice of­fi­cial, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymity.

The ASWJ was of­fi­cially banned as a ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion in 2012, but its work­ers con­tinue to op­er­ate openly and lead­ers of­ten hold pub­lic gath­er­ings. Vi­o­lent crime has dropped sig­nif­i­cantly in Karachi, a teem­ing me­trop­o­lis of more than 18 mil­lion peo­ple, since the launch of a para­mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion three years ago, but tar­geted at­tacks are still fre­quent.

Shi­ite Mus­lims make up about 20 per­cent of Pak­istan’s 190 mil­lion peo­ple, and sec­tar­ian at­tacks against them have be­come in­creas­ingly com­mon in re­cent years. Since 2002, more than 2,500 Shi­ites have been killed in such at­tacks, ac­cord­ing to data gath­ered by the South Asia Ter­ror­ism Por­tal.

— AP

KARACHI: Peo­ple try to es­cape tear gas, fired by po­lice to dis­perse pro­test­ers in Karachi, Pak­istan yes­ter­day.

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