Investigators probing the deadliest attack on members of the Ismaili community have finally confirmed that the assailants were affiliated with the Islamic State (IS).
On Thursday, the anti-terrorism court hearing the case, after an extensive scrutiny, accepted the interim charge sheet of the Safoora bus attack case. The charge sheet, which is also held as the investigation report, was submitted nearly three months after the case was registered.
It states that there were at least 15 assailants involved in the attack: 10 were riding the four motorcycles and five others were in a white-coloured car that followed them. The motorcyclists stopped the bus, barged into it and carried out the execution, while the car occupants served as a back-up team.
Forty-five people, including 27 men and 18 women, were killed and eight others seriously wounded in the gunfire. The attack was carried out on a less-travelled road in Safoora Goth, when the victims were travelling from the community-only residential complex to the city center at around 9am.
Intense firing was heard in the sparsely-populated area, and several onlookers witnessed the attack and the assailants flee in their blood-stained clothes. The police have submitted a list of 67 witnesses, 12 of whom were on the bus and luckily survived the attack.
The police claims to have received information of the incident 15 minutes later and a police van was rushed to the site. Until then, the dead and the injured had been shifted to the nearby Memon Medical Complex.
The crime scene was sealed off as the investigators collected around 36 empties of the fired bullets from there, the challan reads. The quantity of the empties suggested that hand guns and sub-machine guns were used in the attack.
Although the suspects had been arrested a week after the incident, their implication in the case took more than a month. Three suspects – Tahir Hussain alias Saien, Saad Aziz alias Tin Tin and Asadur Rehman alias Malik – were remanded in the case initially. The remaining two – Hafiz Nasir and Azhar Ishrat – were implicated later at the end July.
During the course of investigation, the investigators claim that the weapons used in the incident were seized from the suspects. The weapons and bullets were sent to the laboratories for forensic examination and the results matched with the evidence collected from the crime scene. Meanwhile, the suspects were also picked out by eye-witnesses during the identification parades before a judicial magistrate.
The case resolves around a trio and a duo. The trio is the group of alleged attackers, while the duo is accused of abetment and facilitation. The remaining members of the assault team have been declared absconders in the charge sheet.
According to the investigation report, Nasir monitored the bus while Ishrat, who is an engineer by profession, provided technical expertise to the attackers.
The investigators say Ishrat is an expert in making bombs and improvised explosive devices. A number of bomb sketches have also been seized from him.
The charge sheet, in its concluding part, states that the suspects had long been linked with the alQaeda and after the emergence of the new terror group, IS, shifted towards it.