karachi: A top policeman renowned for his tough stance on criminals and militants was killed by a Taliban car bomb in the volatile port city on Thursday, police said.
The Taliban described Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Chaudhry Aslam’s death as a “huge victory”. At least eleven others were wounded in the attack at Lyari Expressway near Essa Nagri. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the bombing. Three other officers were killed alongside Aslam, said senior police officer Raja Umar Khattab, after a car packed with explosives rammed his vehicle. Chain-smoking Aslam, dubbed “Pakistan’s toughest cop” by local media and a celebrated figure in a country where citizens decry authorities’ failure to crack down on criminals and militants, has been targeted by the Taliban before.
In 2011, the militant group rammed his house with a huge car bomb, killing eight people but leaving his family unscathed. “I will not be cowed. I will teach a lesson to generations of militants,” he said at the time, adding that he had already survived eight other attempts on his life. Karachi police chief Shahid Hayat praised Aslam’s courage, adding: “We have given hundreds of lives in the line of duty to save this city.” Police regularly pick up a dozen bodies a day in Karachi. Around 200 police officers were killed there in 2013.
Last year, Aslam helped conduct a bloody but ultimately failed operation to arrest a man wanted for 63 murders in one of Karachi’s most notorious slums. Five police and 20 civilians died, but the suspect was giving press interviews at his home shortly afterwards. Aslam, whose bathroom was filled with rocket propelled grenades, rejected criticism of his police force when he spoke to Reuters in an interview in 2012.
“We were working for a long time to eliminate him as he killed and tortured many of our people in Karachi,” said Taliban spokesman Sajjad Mohmand from Mohmand Agency in the tribal areas. “We trained this (suicide bomber) especially to eliminate him. It’s a huge success for our people.” He said the Taliban would continue to target other officers on a hit list. Karachi police said Aslam’s unit had killed three suspected Taliban on Thursday morning. Aslam often complained about the lack of funding, training and equipment for Pakistan’s police, contributing to conviction rates of less than 10 percent of those apprehended. Judges often throw out cases where evidence has not been properly gathered.
The bomber smashed his vehicle into Aslam’s convoy. The blast was so powerful that it threw the shattered wreckage of Aslam’s vehicle some 20 metres from where it was hit. “We have killed Chaudhry Aslam and claim the responsibility of his killing,” Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told AFP over the phone from an undisclosed location. “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.”
Dr Semi Jamali, the in-charge of emergency, said that Aslam had passed away before arrival at the hospital. He received several wounds on his body, while his face was completely damaged. While talking to the media inspector general of police said that Aslam’s assassination was a big loss for the police department, but its morale will increase due to his killing. After initial assessment the Bomb Disposal Squad said the bomb weighed around 20 kilogrammes and contained nut bolts and ball bearings to maximise the damage.
SSP Chaudhry Aslam, whose real name was Muhammad Aslam Khan, was known as “encounter specialist”, a title he was referred to by most residents of Lyari. He hailed from the Hazara Division. Aslam had taken strong action against Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LJ) and Lyari gangsters. Under his supervision, police had conducted several successful operations, including the arrest of TTP Ameer Qari Saeed Anwar and LJ member Waseem Baroodi. Aslam joined the police force in 1984. He was one of the few surviving officers of the infamous operation against the Muttahida Qaumi Movement in the 1990s.
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