Taliban suicide blast kills Karachi 'super cop'

KARACHI - A Taliban suicide attacker in Karachi on Thursday killed one of Pakistan's best-known police commanders, famed for his fearless work tackling militants in the city.

Chaudhry Aslam, the head of the criminal investigation department (CID) who had survived numerous assassination attempts in the past, died along with two other officers when a bomber targeted a police convoy on an expressway in eastern Karachi.

The sprawling port city is Pakistan's largest conurbation and economic heart but has been plagued for years by brutal ethnic, political, sectarian and Islamist violence.

The bomber smashed his vehicle into Aslam's convoy and he and two other policemen were killed, senior CID officer Iqbal Mehmood told AFP.

The blast was so powerful that it threw the shattered wreckage of Aslam's vehicle some 20 metres (65 feet) from where it was hit.

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, warning others who target them that they would meet the same fate.

"We have killed Chaudhry Aslam and claim the responsibility of his killing," spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told AFP over the phone from an undisclosed location.

"We attacked him earlier also but he survived. He has killed, tortured and wounded our mujahideen friends... finally, we have sent him towards his end.

"We warn other police and security officials who are brutal to and torture the mujahideen that their fate will be no different."

The Taliban had previously tried to kill Aslam in September 2011 in a huge explosion that tore off the front of his house in a smart area of the city.

After that attack Aslam made a defiant appearance before the media, saying: "I will give my life but I won't bow to terrorists."

He ran an elaborate intelligence network across Karachi's complex web of alliances and bitter, bloody rivalries.

Earlier on Thursday Aslam claimed the killing of three suspected members of the Pakistani Taliban in an encounter in the city.

One of his colleagues, senior officer Raja Umar Khatab, said it appeared the attackers had carried out a comprehensive recce in preparation for the attack.

"It seems that the suicide attacker was inside the car and waiting for Aslam's car to arrive near him and blew or hit the car with Aslam's vehicle," he said.

Police are currently involved in an operation aimed at clearing Karachi of militants and hardcore criminals including hired killers, gun runners and drug peddlers.

Around 2,000 people were killed in violence linked to ethnic and political tensions in 2012, the highest toll in two decades.

There have been fears of growing Taliban presence in the city of 18 million people, which contributes around 40 per cent of the country's GDP.

On Tuesday the bodies of six men were found with their throats cut near a shrine on the edge of Karachi with a note claiming responsibility for the Taliban.