TRAGEDY IN PAKISTAN -- (BY KAMRAN KHAN AND MOLLY MOORE) (Extension of Remarks - March 09, 1995)
HON. THOMAS J. MANTON
in the House of Representatives
THURSDAY, MARCH 9, 1995
- Mr. MANTON. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to call to the attention of my colleagues an article which appeared in today's Washington Post. Yesterday, in Pakistan, the brutal ambush of a United States consulate van left two American diplomats dead and a third wounded. These deaths are a constant reminder of the continuation of terrorism in our world. In the last 3 months, more than 437 people have been murdered by religious zealots in Pakistan alone.
- This cowardly act of terrorism is an unfortunate reminder that we must work to end these acts of violence. As we enter a new age of peace in many parts of the world, it is important to bring those who continue to terrorize others to justice.
[FROM THE WASHINGTON POST, MARCH 9, 1995]
(BY KAMRAN KHAN AND MOLLY MOORE)
- Mr. Speaker, I offer my prayers to the families who lost loved ones in this unspeakable incident. I intend to work closely with my colleagues to investigate this act of terror and bring those responsible to justice.
Karachi, Pakistan, March 8.--The ambush of a U.S. Consulate van by masked gunmen who killed two Americans and injured a third at a busy intersection in downtown Karachi, Pakistan, this morning was a `well-planned campaign to create panic and terror' among Americans and other Westerners, according to a Pakistani official.
Today's attack marked the first time terrorists have targeted Westerners after a year of rampant religious, ethnic and political violence that has left more than 1,000 people dead in Pakistan's financial and commercial capital.
In Washington, a senior administration official said one of the two Americans killed was an intelligence agent working under diplomatic cover, but the U.S. government does not believe this was related to the attack.
Instead, the official said, investigators believe the attack was intended as a payback for the U.S. capture in Pakistan last month of Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, the suspected mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing in New York, or was related to the ethnic violence in Pakistan. The official said there is `no evidence whatsoever' that the assailants knew about the victim's intelligence work.
As Pakistani authorities vowed to launch a full-scale investigation of today's shooting, Karachi police officials revealed that police in a squad car equipped with a rooftop machine gun were at the intersection where the ambush occurred but refused to
- pursue the attackers' getaway car because they were afraid of being killed.
- Both U.S. and Pakistani officials said the attack appeared to be carefully planned and coordinated, although authorities said no group or organization has claimed responsibility. FBI agents were sent to Pakistan today, and Karachi police said the FBI will lead the investigation.
- U.S. Consulate officials said Gary C. Durell, 45, a communications technician from Alliance, Ohio, was killed instantly when two gunmen opened fire on the van. Jackie Van Landingham, 33, a consulate secretary from Camden, S.C., died of gunshot wounds after being taken to a hospital. Mark McCloy, a 31-year-old mailroom worker from Framingham, Mass., was scheduled to undergo surgery today for his wounds, Pakistani officials said. The three consulate employees were stationed in Karachi with their spouses and children, according to U.S. officials.
- Although officials at the consulate said today that they were taking extra precautions to safeguard personnel, a spokesman said, `they live and work in this community. We've told people to keep their heads down, but we can't build a wall around them.' U.S. officials said there are no plans to close the consulate or evacuate family members.
- U.S. and Pakistani authorities condemned the assault, which occurred as the van, with an identifying license plate, was driving the three employees to work at the consulate from the diplomatic residential neighborhood at about 7:45 a.m.
- `This wanton act of terrorism deserves the severest condemnation,' the Pakistani government said. `It is clear that this tragic incident is part of a premeditated plan to create fear and harassment in sensitive areas of Karachi.'
- In Washington, President Clinton denounced the attack as a `cowardly act.' Secretary of State Warren Christopher, arriving in Cairo at the beginning of a visit to the Middle East, said the United States and Pakistan would use `every means at our disposal to bring those responsible for this crime to justice.'
- The incident came at an awkward time for Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who is scheduled to visit Washington next month in an effort to improve the uneasy relations between the two countries. Pakistanis have criticized her government for its failure to control the violence in Karachi.
- The White House said today the shooting would not affect first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton's scheduled tour of Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh at the end of this month. She will not be visiting Karachi.
- The Pakistani government censored reports of the incident carried today by the BBC and CNN television networks and played down the story on the government-controlled national television network.
- Details of the attack were pieced together by Karachi police, using reports from witnesses and an account provided to U.S. officials by the Pakistani van driver, who was not injured and immediately drove his wounded passengers to one of Karachi's major hospitals.
- According to police, three armed gunmen in a stolen yellow taxi followed the white consulate van for several blocks before opening fire on it with automatic weapons from a distance.
- The yellow taxi then swerved in front of the van and cut it off while a red car blocked the van from the opposite side. At least two masked gunmen then stepped out of the vehicles and began firing on the van, shattering its side windows and spraying the windshield with bullets, according to U.S. officials.
- As the gunmen fired on the van, traffic constable Tanvir Ahmed, who was at the intersection, spotted the police car with the machine gun approaching from an adjacent lane. Ahmed said he dashed toward the police vehicle and pointed to the yellow taxi, then speeding away.
- Ahmed said the officer in charge of the police vehicle responded, `Stupid, shall we get killed by chasing these people?' Police officials, who confirmed Ahmed's account, said the police vehicle did not radio for help, but drove six minutes to its home station to report the incident.
- Such a response has not been uncommon among Karachi police. More than 90 law enforcement officials have been killed in Karachi's violence in the past year, including four who were the targets of shooting sprees last weekend.
- U.S. diplomats in Pakistan have become sensitive to terrorism as a result of a 1979 attack on the U.S. Embassy in the capital, Islamabad, in which hundreds of Pakistani men stormed the compound and set several buildings on fire, killing four people. The assault stemmed from unfounded rumors blaming the United States for an attack on the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the holiest site in Islam.
- Karachi police said several threatening telephone calls have been made to the U.S. Consulate in Karachi in recent weeks.
- Karachi police and Pakistani intelligence sources said today they are investigating an Iranian-backed militant Shiite Muslim organization called Sipahae Muhammad (Army of the Prophet Muhammad). Sipahae Muhammad and other Shiite extremists have accused the United States of fanning Karachi's sectarian violence.