Karachi counter-terror cop survives grenade attack

KARACHI (AFP) - Militants launched an unsuccessful gun and grenade attack on the top counter-terrorism official in the southern port city of Karachi, officials said Saturday, leaving five of the attackers dead.

Rao Anwar was on the way to offer his condolences after the death of another police officer shot by militants on Friday when his armoured vehicle was set upon by 10 men, senior police official Najeeb Khan told reporters.

"Rao Anwar and other policemen remained unharmed in the attack as security detail responded swiftly and fired back at the militants and killed five of them," Khan said.

Anwar corroborated the death toll and said he suspected that the militants belonged to the umbrella militant group Tehreek-e-Taleban Pakistan (TTP), which is active in Karachi and northwestern Pakistan.

"Fortunately just a single grenade exploded," he said, adding that three were thrown at his car.

The top policeman was suspended two days ago for addressing a press conference in which he said that two militants he arrested on Wednesday were members of Karachi's most influential ethnic party, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), and were trained by an Indian intelligence agency.

Some of those who have lost their lives in encounters with security forces on Karachi's streets are believed to have been suspected of involvement in the party's armed wing, or to have links with the Taleban or Al-Qaeda.

As the top counter-terrorism police officer in Karachi, dozens of TTP militants have been killed in operations under his command in the past few months, according to local officials.

Anwar was also attacked by a suicide bomber in April 2012 while travelling home from his office. Four of his security personnel were killed in that incident.

Karachi, a city of 20 million people, is wracked by violence and targeted shootings are a near-daily occurrence, either for robbery or for religious, political or ethnic reasons.