Four American oil company employees were gunned down in the Pakistani port city of Karachi early Wednesday, possibly in retaliation for the conviction of Pakistani Mir Amil Kasi in a Fairfax, Va., court Monday in the 1993 killing of two CIA employees.
Police said the four Americans, who worked for the Union Texas Oil Co., were riding in a station wagon in central Karachi at about 8 a.m. today when several men opened fired at the vehicle with automatic rifles from another car, described as a white Toyota. The Pakistani driver of the Americans’ car was also slain in the assault.
A Pakistani source tentatively identified the Americans as Tracy Richard, Efrahim Egibo, Joel Enlow and Larry Jennings, but this could not be immediately confirmed by U.S. government or oil company officials. They were described as auditors who were in Karachi in connection with a company project.
No one claimed responsibility for the attack in this violence-ridden port city, but it came less than 48 hours after Kasi was convicted of shooting dead two CIA employees outside the agency’s Langley, Va., headquarters four years ago. On Tuesday, the State Department issued a warning to Americans in Pakistan and elsewhere in the region to be on guard for possible retaliation following Kasi’s conviction.
Karachi police said they found the car used in Wednesday’s shooting about a half-mile from the attack site. Police officials said they suspect the assault may have been carried out by members of an extremist group called Harkat ul Anasar, which the State Department recently declared a terrorist organization because of its violent activities against Indian rule in the disputed Himalayan province of Kashmir.
Pakistan security officials in Karachi initially said the killings could possibly be reprisals for Kasi’s conviction on murder charges, which could result in a death sentence or life imprisonment after the sentencing phase of his trial concludes Wednesday.
The Kasi trial has been followed across Pakistan, but the news has filtered into the country slowly because of the time difference and because more people here read newspapers than watch satellite television. The conviction played on the front pages of English-language local newspapers, but it was not their lead stories.
Secretary of State Madeline K. Albright is scheduled to arrive here in the Pakistani capital for the first working visit by a secretary of state here since that of George Schultz 1983. Albright was not scheduled to visit Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city and main port.
In recent years Karachi has been the scene of street violence based on ethnic and sectarian rivalries. In 1995, the violence turned on foreigners when two American employees of the U.S. Consulate were slain in a similar drive-by shooting.