KARACHI - Unleashing vengeance the extortion mafia swore on a trader of Liaquatabad no 2, a bike-borne duo on Saturday lobbed a hand grenade at his hardware shop near Dakkhana Chowrangi, leaving five people wounded.

According to police sources, the same shop - Green Hardware - was attacked a couple of months back by an alleged Lyari gangster, namely, Shakir, who had demanded Rs 0.4 million as extortion from Obaid Raja, its owner. A minor boy was also wounded in that attack and the culprit was nabbed, however. Raja was receiving death threats since. Shakir’s accomplices were demanding the shop owner to withdraw the case and pay them Rs0.2 million as extortion money.

Having made its roots stronger enough in Lyari, Old City, Saddar and Golimar, the extortion mafia is looking to spread its tentacles in other parts of the city, including Liaquatabad.

Witnesses said the two attackers, attired in trousers and shirts, hurled a hand grenade at Green Hardware at around 11:15am. Officials of the Sindh Rangers, police and Bomb Disposal Squad arrived at the crime scene to collect evidences. The injured, Obaid Raja, 20-year-old Asad Aslam, Sohail Aziz (22), Sardar Ghayasuddin (35) and 27-year-old Mukhtiar Hussain, were ferried to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital (ASH), where doctors stated that they were out of danger.

Sources said that interior of the shop was partially damaged in the attack, after which tension flared in Liaquatabad. Traders and shopkeepers shut their shops and took to the streets to give vent to their anger. Shouting slogans against the extortion mafia, the protesters demanded the authorities to take stern action against those involved in the attack and taking money from them by extortion.

They alleged that extortionists enjoyed political patronage, adding that an extortionist, namely Ahmed Baloch, a close aide of Lyari godfather Baba Ladla, was heading the mafia and law-enforcement agencies could not act against him because of political influence. The enraged shopkeepers said that mafia operatives telephoned them to ask them for money and took action if any trader failed to pay.

Investigators suspected that members of the gang of slain Rehman Dacoit might be behind the grenade attack. A senior police official, SHO Mumtaz Shah, however, held the shopkeepers and traders responsible for the attack, saying the police were not informed beforehand.

It may be mentioned here that the busiest Liaquatabad Market is under the grip of extortionists, but the police are unable to step up their presence.