KARACHI, Pakistan – A man arrested after opening fire and killing two Pakistani police officers guarding the U.S. Consulate in this southern city had a note in his pocket saying it was his duty as a Muslim to kill the protectors of infidel Americans, officials said Saturday.
The man, identified as Zulfiqar Ali, 30, was brought to court Saturday and ordered remanded into police custody on charges of murder, attempted murder and firing a weapon. He faces the death penalty if convicted, police said.
When arrested, Ali had a sketched map detailing the consulate's outside security arrangements, deputy superintendent of police Gul Hamid Sammo told The Associated Press.
"I am going to kill the police officers who are protecting the infidels," the letter found in Ali's pocket said, according to Sammo. "This is my religious obligation.
Ali told police he had expected to die in the Friday attack, and screamed "Why don't you kill me!" at officers who arrested him, Sammo said.
He later told police he had acted alone in the shooting, but authorities suspect there were other gunmen.
"We think he was assigned this task by some group or organization, and we are trying to get the information from him," Sammo said.
Two police at a checkpost outside the consulate were killed and five other people wounded Friday in the first attack targeting U.S. interests in Pakistan since last June, when a suicide bomber rammed an explosive-filled car into the wall of the same consulate, killing 12 Pakistanis.
The trial of the five Islamic militants accused of masterminding the June attack was postponed Saturday because one of the defense attorneys did not show up, court officials said. The suspects face the death penalty if convicted. The trial will resume on Monday.
No Americans were injured in either incident.
Ali originally told police he was an Afghan, but has since admitted under interrogation that he is in fact Pakistani, senior police investigator Fayyaz Leghari told AP on Saturday. He said the man is believed to be a member of a local Islamic militant group and received terrorist training in Afghanistan, but did not give any further details.
Leghari said police had also detained Ali's father and two brothers for questioning, as well as a cleric who preaches at Ali's mosque. Ali and his family were originally from the central Pakistani city of Multan, but had lived in Karachi for some years, Leghari said.
Karachi, a port city of 14 million people, has been one of Pakistan's leading centers of anti-Western violence in recent years. Lately, it also has been riven by sectarian strife between Sunni and Shiite Muslim sects.
In January last year, Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was kidnapped in Karachi while researching Pakistani extremists. A month later, a graphic videotape sent to U.S. diplomats showed Pearl dead.
Interior Ministry spokesman Iftikhar Ahmad said security forces were on alert, but insisted Friday's attack was not likely the result of increasing anti-American sentiment.
"We don't think the incident has any relevance with the crisis over Iraq," Ahmad said.
The United States has evacuated diplomats' family members from Pakistan, as have other foreign missions here.
In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Friday the U.S. consul general was working closely with Pakistani investigators. "We extend our deepest sympathies to the families of the victims," Boucher said. "It's very sad. We appreciate the fact that people were there protecting us."