Pakistan embassy staffer shot at in Nepal, manhunt launched (Lead)April 14th, 2011 - 4:25 pm ICT by IANS
Kathmandu, April 14 (IANS) A Pakistan embassy employee here was shot at in an audacious attack Thursday, following which police cordoned off a busy area in the capital and launched a manhunt for the runaway gunmen.
Mehboob Asif, visa assistant at the Pakistan embassy, was fired upon by two unidentified individuals on Ring Road while he was coming to the office on his motorbike around 8.50 a.m., the Pakistani embassy said in a statement.
“The embassy official received multiple bullet injuries and is undergoing treatment at a local hospital,” the statement added.
Police, quoting eyewitnesses, said Asif was shot four times in quick succession in the Vasundhara area of the city, close to both his residence as well as the Pakistani embassy.
He received injuries in the hand and stomach. The attackers jumped on Asif’s motorcycle and escaped on it.
The vehicle was found later dumped near the Kanti Children’s Hospital in the capital.
Authorities at the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital said Asif was out of danger.
Pakistani Ambassador Syed Abrar Hussain visited the injured consular staff and told journalists he was confident that Nepal being a “very friendly country” would look into the matter seriously.
Police said five people were arrested soon after the attack and investigations were launched. The area where the vehicle was found and the hospital where Asif was taken for treatment were cordoned off.
The shooting is the latest in a series of audacious attacks in the capital this week that saw an Indian trader die in a gun attack in his own shop and a Nepali minister survive a knife attack close to his own residence.
On Sunday, Anjani Kumar Chachan, an Indian trader dealing in leather goods in Nepal, was killed in his shop, A V Enterprises, in Ganabahal, one of the busiest commercial areas of the capital. It triggered an outcry by Nepal’s business community that forced the police authority to pledge that Chachan’s killers would be found within 10 days.
On Monday, newly named Nepali Energy Minister Gokarna Bista was hacked at by two motorcycle-borne assailants near his residence in the Samakhushi area. He received gashes on his head and hand.
In the past, the Pakistani embassy here was embroiled in controversies with at least two employees, including a first secretary, being accused of involvement in criminal activities.
Nepal deported Pakistani first secretary Mohammad Arshad Cheema and Asam Saboor, a clerk at the embassy. The first secretary was caught with RDX, used for making explosives, at his residence in the capital, and the clerk with banned Indian currency.
Cheema was also alleged to have been involved in the hijack of Indian Airlines flight No. 814 from Kathmandu to New Delhi in December 1999 by Pakistani terrorists who killed one of the passengers.
There have also been allegations that Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI was working through the Pakistani embassy in Kathmandu to abet the smuggling of counterfeit Indian currency and terror activities targeting Indian cities.
(Sudeshna Sarkar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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