A U.S. academic recovering in hospital after being shot by suspected militants in Karachi has made an “immeasurable” contribution to the medical college where she works, a colleague said Friday.
Debra Lobo, 55, is conscious and in stable condition after being shot once in the cheek and once in the arm on Thursday. Leaflets dropped at the scene of the attack said Lobo was targeted because of her nationality and vowed more attacks on Americans.
Baqar Nawab, the administrator of Jinnah Medical and Dental College, where Lobo is assistant professor of community health, hailed what she has done since joining in 1996. “She has a huge contribution toward the growth of this college,” Nawab told AFP. “We can never find her replacement and her contribution is immeasurable.”
Nawab said Lobo, who is married to a Pakistani-Christian, was hugely popular with students. “We got a lot of calls from former students of the college who are now serving as doctors in America. They were all very much concerned about her,” the administrator said.
Leaflets left at the scene of the shooting hinted at the involvement of militants linked to the Islamic State group, though they also claimed the attack as revenge for the death of suspected Al Qaeda members in a police raid earlier in the week.
Nawab said Lobo had never been threatened and had completely integrated into the Pakistani way of life, adopting local dress and speaking Urdu fluently. “She wears shalwar kameez, and she carries herself in the perfect way the local values call for,” he said. “She is more mistaken for a Pashtun or Central Asian lady rather than an American woman.”
Karachi, a city of 20 million people, is wracked by violence and targeted shootings are a near-daily occurrence, either for robbery or for religious, political or ethnic reasons. But attacks on foreigners are rare.
Police said their investigation was focusing on groups whose members have been killed or arrested in a recent crackdown on militants in the city. There have been concerns about the I.S. group tapping support in Pakistan, a country awash with dozens of militant groups. Some disaffected Pakistani Taliban cadres have also said they have switched allegiance to I.S., but the true extent of links to the group’s Middle East operations remains unclear.