KARACHI - A US national and vice principal of Jinnah Medical and Dental College (JMDC) was critically injured on Thursday at Shaheed-e-Millat Road in what police believed to be the first targeted attack in the metropolis by the terrorists claiming affiliation with the Islamic State (IS) or Daesh.
The victim, identified as 55-year-old Debra Lobo, was targeted by four unidentified assailants on two motorbikes as she left the college premises for home in her car with her driver, said SSP Pir Muhammad Shah.
Lobo received two bullets and taken to a private hospital where after treatment doctors said her condition was out of danger. “The assailants dropped leaflets at the crime scene with a message in both English and Urdu, stating that the attack was the backlash of the killing of their five ‘mujahideen brothers’ in Keamari area,” added SSP Shah.
It is worth mentioning here that it is the first incident of its kind in Karachi for which the attackers have claimed responsibility, showing their affiliation with Daesh instead of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan or Al-Qaeda.
SSP Shah, however, said the police would probe the matter to ascertain whether the IS was actually active in the metropolis or dropping of the leaflets was merely a ploy by local militant groups to spread fear. However, the leaflets calling for support of IS militants have been seen over recent months in parts of northwest Pakistan and pro-IS slogans have appeared on walls in several cities.
The leaflets titled “We will burn America”, further state that the ‘lions’ who ‘killed this Kansas woman’ belonged to Daulah Al-Islamiyah, the Arabic name for IS. “We shall lie in wait until we ambush you and kill you wherever you may be until we confine and besiege you in America,” added the leaflets. The leaflets, seen by AFP, are plain printed text documents with no IS emblems or insignia and vow more attacks on Americans.
A police official told a private TV channel that 55-year-old Mrs Lobo had left the college at 3:00pm for her home when four gunmen shot her twice in the cheek and shoulder. He added that she hails from California.
The US Embassy in Islamabad said it was looking into the report, but could not yet confirm the police statements that the victim was American. Interior Ministry said it is also investigating.
Officials at the medical college said Lobo moved to Karachi from California around two decades ago. Later, she joined JMDC as a community health science’s faculty member in 1998 and became its vice principal. Leaflets calling for support of IS jihadists have been seen over recent months in parts of the country and pro-IS slogans have appeared on walls in several cities.
Some disaffected Taliban cadres have also said they have switched allegiance to IS, but the true extent of links to the group’s Middle East operations remains unclear.
Despite a decade of relentless violence, attacks on foreigners in Pakistan remain relatively rare, although a Pakistani-American doctor from Columbus, Ohio was shot and killed last May near Lahore in another targeted attack.
Karachi, a bustling metropolis of about 22 million people, is one of Pakistan’s most volatile and dangerous cities.
Over the past 18 months, paramilitary officers have been engaged in a major operation against militants and criminal gangs in the city. But some parts of Karachi remain a refuge for the Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants.