LAHORE: The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) has warned the government to immediately shift its under-trial militants from the high-security Anti Terrorism Force (ATF) Jail in Quetta Cantonment to the Central Jail Hudda in the provincial metropolis or get ready to faceyet another suicide assault by its Fidayeen attackers – this time targeting the ATF prison.
According to well-placed circles in the security establishment, the threat was hurled by Abu Bakar Siddiq, the spokesman of the LeJ’s Balochistan chapter in phone calls he had made after the February 16 Alamdar Road suicide bombings in Quetta which killed 90 Shia Hazaras.
The ATF jail in Quetta, where those charged with involvement in terrorist activities are held, is notorious for severe tales of torture during interrogation. Most of the prisoners there are either Baloch nationalists or the LeJ militants. Of the 50-plus LeJ henchmen who are being tried in Quetta for their involvement in terrorist activities, over two dozen are being kept at the ATF jail. It is the same prison where the chief of the LeJ’s Balochistan chapter Usman Kurd and his second-in-command Dawood Badini were being kept till January 18, 2008.
The Kurd-Badini, duo which now spearheads the ongoing massacre of Shia Hazaras in Balochistan, had made good its escape under mysterious circumstances after breaking the ATF jail despite the fact that it is located in the high security garrison zone of Quetta Cantonment. Senior police officials in Quetta say the LeJ wants the shifting of the under trial militants from the ATF jail because the prison authorities have made fool proof security arrangements there since the January 2008 jail break episode. They added that compared with the ATF prison, which is exclusively meant for hardcore terrorists, the Central Jail Hudda, Quetta, is less secured because it is largely meant to keep under trial criminal elements.
While making phone calls to several journalists of television channels and newspapers on the night of February 16 to claim responsibility for the Alamdar Road suicide hit, the LeJ spokesman reportedly read out a written statement on phone: “The vehicle bomb at Alamdar Road was blown up by our colleague Umar Farooq. The government should be under no illusion now that the imposition of the Governor’s Rule in Balochistan has failed to dissuade us from targeting our enemy — the Shia Hazaras. We want to make it clear to the Shia Hazaras that they should not consider themselves safe and secure till the establishment of the Islamic Caliphate in Pakistan”.
The spokesman further said: “The Mujahideen of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi will continue to kill Shias regardless of the imposition of the Governor’s rule or the deployment of the Army. We will protect the honor of Islamic Caliphs by sacrificing each and everyone of us. The February 16 Fidayeen attack by a vehicle bomber was the second one in the Shia dominated area since the beginning of 2013. Let me inform the Shia Hazaras that we have 20 more such vehicles which are packed with lethal explosives and ready to hit the enemy. We are only waiting for next orders from our leadership to hit our targets in Alamdar Road, Mehrabad and Hazara Town. We are neither afraid of the Governor’s Rule nor the Pakistan Army and we will continue to kill Shias Hazaras in their homes”.
Following the January 10 twin suicide bombings on the Alamdar Road which killed 103 Shia Hazaras, LeJ spokesman Abu Bakar Siddiq had not only claimed responsibility for the incident but also reminded that the Hazaras had been warned to leave Balochistan by the end of 2012 or face severe consequences.
“Many of the Hazara enemies had fled but there were those who decided to stay back as they loved their jobs and properties. God willing, the Lashkar will not allow any of these Hazaras to leave Balochistan alive. Today’s suicide attack (January 10) was only the first in a series of deadly bombings. God willing, we will conduct such stunning attacks in the coming days that the enemies will not be able to flee Balochistan alive”.
According to the Hazara Democratic Party (HDP) Chairman Abdul Khaliq Hazara, the ongoing reign of terror against the Shia Hazaras in Quetta had intensified following the release of Malik Mohammad Ishaq, a key leader of the LeJ who was bailed out by the Supreme Court of Pakistan on July 14, 2011 after spending 14 years in jail. Charged with involvement in over 100 sectarian murders, he was released due to “lack of evidence”.
The Hazara community alleges that Malik Ishaq has re-established contact with Usman Kurd and Dawood Badini after he was set free. Ishaq’s release instantly led to sectarian tensions in the Punjab because of the anti-Shia sermons he started delivering while touring the province.