KARACHI: The prime suspect for the Sehwan bombing which killed 88 last week was involved in a string of attacks in rural Sindh, including a suicide attack in 2015 at an Imam Bargah in Shikarpur.
While the country reels from the impact of the bombing at Lal Shahbaz Qalandar’s shrine the law enforcement agencies (LEAs) are vigorously looking for the mastermind behind the attack.
The name of Abdul Hafeez Pandrani, a resident of Abdul Khaliq Pandrani village of district Shikarpur, has surfaced in the investigation. He is the leader of the Hafeez Brohi group affiliated with the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) but now is reported to have joined Daesh.
Speaking to journalists on Sunday, Sindh IG AD Khawaja said that Hafeez Brohi group’s role in the recent bombing cannot be ruled out. Intelligence agencies have arrested six suspected of facilitating the Sehwan blast, according to reports.
Police and intelligence agencies suspect Pandrani to be the mastermind of the recent bombing. He is also alleged to be involved in several high-profile terrorist attacks in interior Sindh.
Pandrani, who belongs to the Brohi tribe, is named in the seventh edition of Counter Terrorism Department (CTD), Sindh, Red Book. The 35-year-old most-wanted terrorist, whose details are mentioned on page number 57 of the Red Book, is affiliated with banned LeJ.
He was also the key contact of LeJ Chief Asif Chotu, who was killed in an alleged encounter with CTD Punjab on January 18, this year. Chotu and Pandrani were responsible for carrying out deadly attacks in Shikarpur and other parts of interior Sindh.
Involved in 2015 Shikarpur blast which killed 61
Pandrani’s name also came up in the suicide bombing inside the Imam Bargah Karbala-e-Mualla of Lakkhi Dar, Shikarpur, on January 30, 2015, which killed 61.
CTD Sindh arrested a suspect, identified as Khalil Ahmed, for facilitating the attack. According to the interrogation report of Ahmed, Pandrani provided him with a cart for the reconnaissance of Karbala-e-Muallah’s surroundings.
Ahmed also confessed to the interrogators that the suicide bomber, Ilyas, stayed in Pandrani’s village. Upon Pandrani’s instruction, Ahmed dropped the suicide bomber and another facilitator, Rahim, near the Imam bargah. Later, Ilyas blew himself up killing 61 people who were offering Friday prayers.
Pandrani also played an integral role in the failed terrorist attack during Eid-ul-Azha prayers in Shikarpur, last year.
On September 13, 2016, people spotted two suicide bombers sitting among the people who were observing Eid prayers at an Eidgah in Shikarpur. When prayer organisers and volunteers rushed towards them the two attempted to escape. During the scuffle, police gunned down one suicide bomber and the other, Usman, was put behind bars.
A joint interrogation team (JIT) was constituted to probe the matter. Before the JIT, Usman revealed that Pandrani used to visit a compound in Wadh, where Usman stayed with the other bomber for three months.
A day prior to the attack, Pandrani and another man, Dilawar, shifted both the would-be bombers from Wadh to Shikarpur on two motorcycles riding on irregular routes. Pandrani provided them with suicide vests, which he collected from Wadh compound of Arif and Muaaz, and even helped them wear it, according to Usman. Later, Pandrani dropped the two terrorists to Eidgah.
The First Information Report (FIR) of the same incident was lodged against would-be suicide bomber Usman, Pandari among others.
On November 11, a day before the deadly attack on Shah Noorani shrine in Balochistan, Arif was gunned down in an encounter with Sindh Rangers at Hub.
While probing the background of prime suspect of Sehwan bombing, another startling fact was unfolded. Abdul Hakim Pandrani, the brother of Hafeez Pandrani, carried out the first suicide attack in the history of interior Sindh. However, police officials thwarted his attempt.
Hakim tried to sneak into an Ashura procession in Taluka Khanpur of Shikarpur district on December 19, 2010. But he was intercepted and was gunned down by policemen.