Lahore Firewood-seller Abdul Jabbar of Farid Colony was bludgeoned to death early Tuesday, according to Kot Lakhpat police, adding that this was at least the 17th victim killed in this manner; the last such incident took place some 11 months ago.
Police suspect the so-called Danda Group is behind these killings.
Mr Jabbar, 55, was sleeping in the street outside his house when the assailants struck. By the time Mr Jabbar’s family was alerted to the situation, the assailants had fled. He was rushed to hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.
His body was sent for an autopsy and police has registered a case.
Last year, the Danda Group first struck on February 24, 2003. On that day, a rash of killings bearing the mark of the group – severe blows to the head with a blunt object – claimed two victims in Badamibagh and two in Lorry Adda. Similar killings claimed a victim each on March 1 near Shalimar Gardens; March 7 on Ravi Road; March 28 in Shahdara; April 1 in Badamibagh; April 14 in Shahdara; and April 16 in Ichhra.
On April 19, two woodsmen were clubbed to death in Timber Market. One man was killed inside a Shahdara mosque on April 24, and three people were killed last May 17, including a physically handicapped man at Thokar Niaz Baig.
Suspected member of the group, Liaquat Ali, now in police custody, said it is wrong to refer to the group simply as the Danda Group.
“The group uses at least three different types of wooden sticks and iron rods,” he is said to have told police. “Group members get Rs 25,000 for each killing and are told to strike between 5.00am and 6.00am when police patrolling is low,” he added. “The hours of operation switched to the afternoon once police cottoned on.”
Police say serial killing gangs have claimed at least 131 lives since Pakistan came into being in 1947.
They say the first known group of serial killers, the Mutahar Group accused of 31 murders, was found out in 1957. The Hathora or Hammer Group claimed 18 lives and was first discovered in 1968. The Sar Katta Group dates back to 1977 and has claimed at least 19 decapitations. The Mini Hathora Group killed some 21 and was discovered in 1985. And the Chhura Group was found out in 2002 and blamed for 26 murders.