Two killed as terror strikes cellular franchise
By: Salis bin Perwaiz
In a brazen terrorist attack, four militants barged into the franchise of an international cellular company in the Shadman area on Friday and opened fire on the staff, killing two employees and injuring the same number of people.
The assailants, who the police believed belong to a local Taliban group, set the premises on fire after before making good their escape. It is the first time a cellular phone franchise has come under attack in the city. However, attacks on video shops and cellular companies are a common feature in the militancy-torn tribal areas.
At 10:45am on Friday morning, four armed men entered the franchise in the Shadman No-2 area. As soon as the criminals walked in, they removed their shawls to reveal their fearsome weapons and opened indiscriminate fire on the staff.
Leaving the victims fighting for their lives, two of the assailants went outside the office, picked up a can of petrol and re-entered. They doused the office with the lubricant and set it on fire.
The raging inferno spread rapidly and the bodies of two employees, who were already killed by the firing, were burnt, while two survivors suffered burn injuries in addition to their bullet wounds.
The public present at the scene acted quickly by calling the police and started their own rescue work by shifting the injured to hospital. Police mobiles, along with fire tenders, reached the spot a few minutes after the attack. The rescue teams battled to put the flames out and managed to rescue the remaining staff. Law enforcers cordoned off the area in an effort to preserve the evidence.
Meanwhile, hospital sources said that two people had been brought to the medical facility dead. They were identified as Amir Shafiq and Ashraf.
Shafiq was the salesman of the franchise. He has left behind a widow. Amir, also an employee of the cellular company, was a resident of Federal B Area.
The injured were identified as Sohail and Fahad. Eyewitnesses said that the assailants were four to five in number, and came to the office in a Hi-roof van and a motorcycle. They were covered in shawls and wore caps over their long hair.
The eyewitnesses confirmed that the assailants drew the weapons concealed in their shawls, opened fire at the staff and tried to burn their victims by torching the premises. Investigators said that the franchise belonged to a well-known businessman, Murad Soni, also a former senior member of the Citizens’ Police Liaison Committee (CPLC) in the late 90s.
Soni claimed he had no form of animosity with anyone and nor did he receive any threats from a militant organisation or a group of extortionists, said the police. The investigators said empty Kalashnikov casings were recovered from the scene of the crime, while a review of the CCTV footage led them to believe that a militant group was behind the attack.
The operation resembled those carried out in the past by banned militant outfits. Investigators pointed out that if it was a robbery bid, the assailants would not have killed the employees nor set the franchise on fire.
The police said that in Friday’s incident, the armed men barged into the office with a single objective and that was to cause loss of human life. Investigators are looking into the incident from various angles, such as the possibility of militants trying to deliver a message. They are checking intelligence reports received by various units and also seeking the help of intelligence agencies to determine the motive behind this attack that cost two people their lives.
Meanwhile, the post-mortems of the deceased were a carried out and law enforcers recorded the statements of eyewitnesses. With the help of CCTV footage recovered from the scene, investigators are developing sketches of the fleeing suspects.
Source: The News