Saturday April 20, 2024

‘Rogue state’s agency’ behind Sialkot mosque shooting: IGP

By Arshad Dogar
October 14, 2023

LAHORE: Inspector General of Police (IGP) Punjab Dr Usman Anwar Friday held a “rogue nation’s hostile intelligence agency” responsible for the Sialkot mosque shooting, that claimed two lives on Wednesday morning.

On October 11, a prayer leader, a religious activist belonging to a banned outfit, and his security guard were killed in what is believed to be a targeted attack on a Daska mosque during the Fajr prayers.

The IGP held a press conference at the Central Police Office to apprise the media about the terrorist attack in Sialkot. Additional IGP Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) Wasim Ahmed Khan and District Police Officer (DPO) Sialkot Muhammad Hasan Iqbal were also present.

The IGP said most of those involved in the targeted killings had been arrested, adding that it was carried out by a “rogue nation and planned outside Pakistan”. He did not name that nation.

“The perpetrators were identified by the unity of purpose of the law-enforcement agencies,” he said. “Most of them have been arrested. The state of Pakistan, through its law-enforcement agencies, will expose the rogue nation and its intelligence agency before the world soon,” he promised. He said that in the second press conference, to be held soon, all evidence, which the investigators were going to present in the courts, would be shared with the media.

“Alhamdulillah, Pakistan has bravely faced even more tragic incidents,” he said and added that the security institutions of Pakistan, including the police, counter-terrorism department, all the intelligence agencies including ISI, IB, MI, Counter-Terrorism Wing together had traced a terrorism incident in Pakistan within 24 hours. He said: “Our intelligence agencies, in particular the CTD, are using the latest technology and soft wares like Hotel Eye, Face Trace, helped trace the accused.”

The IGP, while showing a slide in the press conference, said the network of the accused within Sialkot had been raided by the police teams in hundreds of kilometres area and all criminals arrested. In this crime, they had confirmed with already available evidence that a wicked country, through its smelly agency, was trying to do such actions in different countries of the world. But now it would be exposed, he added. The IGP said the law-enforcers had all details: where these people met, who came to Pakistan and who sent them?

The CTD had details of geo-fencing, call data records and other evidence, which will be produced before the court. He said on Oct 6 and 9, the accused conducted reconnaissance. Punjab Police can confirm it through its soft wares of Hotel Eye. Then they returned to Lahore and on the morning of Oct 11, they committed the terror act in a mosque. They wanted to use the incident against Pakistan before the world, but now it would be used against them, the IGP added.

The IGP also presented a map of the area of operation on a projector. Lahore, Sialkot, Kasur and Pakpattan in all districts together supported and completed the operation, he added. He said the accused had been arrested from Kasur, Pakpattan, Sialkot and Lahore. He said: “We want to send a message to the whole world that the Punjab Police were united with all other police forces and law-enforcement agencies of the country and all agencies collaborated and collected evidence which will not only be presented to the public but would be brought before every country in the peace-loving world.”

Slain Maulana Shahid Latif’s security guard Zulfiqar Ali said six unidentified people reached the Noori-i-Madina Masjid early Wednesday (Oct 11) morning in Mandike Guraya Chowk on motorbikes and three of them joined the prayers. He said some gunshots were heard and within seconds the assailants fled the scene, adding that the gunmen had shot at him as well but he remained unhurt.

According to the police, prayer leader Maulana Ahad, Maulana Muhammad Latif, and his security guard Hashim Ali were seriously injured in the firing.

Police said Maulana Latif died on-the-spot due to a head injury while Maulana Ahad and the security guard were immediately shifted to the Daska Tehsil Headquarters Hospital in critical condition.

The guard succumbed to bullet wounds while Maulana Ahad was shifted to a hospital in Gujranwala where he also expired.

Eyewitnesses Qamar Abbas and Salim Virk, who were also offering prayers at that time, said the ages of the suspects were between 20 and 25 years. Sialkot DPO Muhammad Hasan Iqbal said that could be called a targeted killing and an incident of terrorism, adding that the police investigation teams had obtained all evidence and statements of local people. The DPO confirmed Muhammad Shahid Latif was an activist of the banned Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM).