By Zia Ur Rehman

KARACHI – Two blasts that damaged the main railway track in the Shah Latif Town area of Karachi, and interrupted rail traffic for an hour February 17, are the latest in a recent wave of such attacks.

Two unknown men travelling by motorbike planted .5kg of explosives in Shah Latif and set them off manually, police said.

In the past week bombs throughout Sindh Province have targeted railway tracks, disrupting upcountry train service. The blasts are the work of the Sindhu Desh Liberation Army (SDLA), an underground terrorist organisation linked with the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a security official said.

The SDLA collaborates with the TTP and BLA and exchanges weapons and terrorists with them, the official said. Central Asia Online has previously reported on the links between the BLA and TTP.

More than a dozen low-intensity blasts halted train service for hours, an official of Pakistan Railways (PR) told Central Asia Online.More than a dozen low-intensity blasts halted train service for hours, an official of Pakistan Railways (PR) told Central Asia Online. On February 11 two blasts damaged the track in Karachi near the Baloch Colony area; four blasts occurred in Mehrab Pur; two were set off in Hyderabad; and four occurred in Nawab Shah. In Khairpur on blast was set off February 13; and followed one in Kotri a day earlier, the PR official said.

The explosion near the Baloch Colony bridge area in Karachi injured two people, but no injuries have been reported in the other explosions, the official added.

Rail attacks lead to financial losses

The February 11 attacks compelled PR to halt trains carrying cargo up-country, causing a loss of Rs. 5m (US $58,700), the official said. All of the damaged track have been repaired and service restored, the official said.

Sindh Home Minister Zulfiqar Mirza has ordered the inspector general of police Sindh to investigate and to arrest the culprits, a government statement said.

Mirza ordered the formation of a special team to investigate and demanded a full report, according to the statement.

Officials already have created a security plan to protect the tracks with the assistance of the Sindh police and round-the-clock patrols have begun, said Superintendent of Railway Police Muzaffar Sheikh.

Law enforcement agencies have arrested dozens of suspects from Karachi, Hyderabad and Nawab Shah, Sheikh said.

The railway attacks are linked to the militancy in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and are meant to disrupt communications and foster panic, said Sharfuddin Memon, a consultant at the Sindh Home Ministry.

The locally made bombs used against the railway each contained about 1.1kg of explosive, bomb disposal officials said. They described the blasts as similar in nature and seemingly co-ordinated.

PR police found SDLA leaflets at the explosion sites, and Darya Khan, an SDLA commander, has claimed responsibility for the railway bombings throughout Sindh, a senior police official in Hyderabad told Central Asia Online. Khan also took responsibility for four explosions damaging the Guddo railway tracks in November.

The SDLA is an underground Sindhi terrorist organisation comprised of different splinter factions that broke away from various Sindhi nationalist groups. Its main commanders are Khan and Ghulam Hussain Chandio, said Ibrahim Shah, a Sukker-based Sindhi journalist.

The SDLA has bombed railway tracks in the past. It has always left pamphlets at the scene denouncing alleged atrocities against the Sindhi people and vowing to continue its struggle until Sindh gains “freedom,” Shah added.