A man travelling in a rickshaw lost his life after being injured in a crossfire between police and suspected robbers on Karachi’s Sharea Faisal on Saturday, police said.
A group in a white Toyota Corolla had been involved in robbing commuters from the airport for the past few months by pretending to be police officials, Station House Officer (SHO) Ali Hassan told reporters.
When a police party intercepted them on Saturday morning, they attempted to escape in a rickshaw being driven by a certain Abdul Rauf, who was accompanied by his friend Maqsood.
Rauf, Maqsood and two allegedly fleeing robbers were injured in the crossfire while one suspected robber managed to escape.
The injured were taken to Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Complex (JPMC) where Maqsood succumbed to his injuries, the SHO said, adding that the two robbers have been arrested.
An eyewitness to the incident said he too was in the rickshaw, besides Rauf and Maqsood, when the shootout happened.
Narrating his version of events, the eyewitness said the trio were travelling in the rickshaw when two men tried to stop them and opened fire upon their refusal to stop. He said he heard another burst of fire and the rickshaw then toppled. After being pulled out from the rickshaw, the eyewitness said he saw that the other men had been injured in the gunfire.
Family demands justice
The family members of Maqsood, the only brother of five sisters, alleged at the hospital that the deceased was killed in a ‘staged encounter’ and demanded justice. They also beat up the already injured robber.
SHO Hassan said that the arrested suspects had been involved in robberies in Bahadurabad and New Town areas yesterday and one of their victims has identified one of the injured robbers.
He added that a fake walkie-talkie, police uniforms, a fake number plate, a pistol and an SMG rifle have been recovered from the car.
The suspected robbers were identified as Babar and Ali while their accomplice Arfeen is still at large, Senior Superintendent Police (SSP) East Dr Samiullah Soomro said.
He said that the robbers who hail from Lahore have confessed to their crimes.
A police surgeon at JPMC said Maqsood’s family took his body before a post-mortem examination could take place, but added that he sustained two bullets on his head and chest.
The police are searching for the escaped individual while Sindh Inspector General A.D. Khowaja has announced Rs200,000 reward for the police party.
In a statement released later in the day, Khowaja requested citizens to not “pressurise police officials on genuine actions”. He was reacting to media reports doubting the veracity of the police ‘encounter’.
“If you start to downplay genuine actions, police officers will be hesitant to assist citizens,” Khowaja said.