Officials of Sindh’s Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) gunned down a “notorious terrorist and bomber” and arrested five others, all of whom believed to be operatives of a foreign hostile intelligence agency, during an operation in the Shah Latif area in the wee hours of Monday.
Later, a media briefing was held at the CTD Sindh headquarters that was attended by Information Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah, the provincial police chief, CTD Sindh chief DIG Omar Shahid Hamid and Raja Umer Khattab, chief of the Transnational Terrorists Intelligence Group who led the operation.
Addressing the news conference, Shah said: “Today is a big day. A major network of terrorists has been busted in Shah Latif Town. The group was involved in anti-state activities. The target was Sindh in particular.”
He said that there had been a number of threat alerts over the past several months, on which the CTD, the law enforcement agencies and, particularly, the intelligence agencies had been working.
The minister said that in the Shah Latif shoot-out, a potential suicide bomber was killed on the spot and five of his accomplices were arrested. He said that according to the preliminary information, most of the members of the group are believed to be from Afghanistan, and there is also strong evidence of the involvement of the Indian intelligence agency RAW (Research & Analysis Wing). “Their targets were our key installations and high-profile personalities.”
He said that the Provincial Assembly of Sindh was one of the main targets of the terrorists. He expressed gratitude to Almighty Allah, saying that our police, CTD officers and intelligence agencies carried out a successful operation and detained hardcore terrorists.
“We’re in a state of war; our enemy uses our own people who facilitate terrorism. No concession will be provided to those talking against our country; they have no right to be here.” Shah said that Pakistan belongs to all of us. “We have to strengthen it together. When it comes to our country, we should all be together. Our enemies don’t want peace in the country and want to destabilise it.”
Replying to a question, he said the Sindh police chief has been empowered. “He is a part of the provincial government. We all work together for the betterment of the people of Sindh.” In response to another query, he said that all the information will be shared after the interrogation process has been completed, adding that the operation was a joint effort involving the police, the CTD and intelligence agencies.
DIG Hamid said that after intelligence was shared with the CTD, Khattab was directed to accompany the federal intelligence agency to conduct a raid in the Shah Latif area.
The CTD chief said that when the team of officials arrived in the locality, the terrorists opened fire on them, resulting in a shoot-out. He said that the officials arrested six terrorists, including one in an injured condition, and took over their hideout.
He added that one of the terrorists who was wounded in the encounter succumbed to his injuries on the way to the hospital, while the rest of them were taken to the headquarters for interrogation.
The deceased was identified as Laal Muhammad, alias Mehmood, while the others as Zahidullah, alias Sulaiman, Bismillah, alias Haji Lala, Mohammad Qasim, alias Haji Siddique, Inamullah, alias Bilal, and Gul Mohammad.
During the search of their hideout, the officials found four Kalashnikovs, 12 Kalashnikov magazines, 500 Kalashnikov bullets, three suicide jackets, a rickshaw with explosives and two rockets attached, 12 detonators, 13 explosive blocks, 12 hand grenades, maps of key installations and other items.
The initial investigation suggests that the terrorists planned to target the PA building as well as an important installation with vehicle-based improvised explosive devices, said DIG Hamid. He has requested the Sindh government and police chief Mushtaq Mahar to form a joint investigation team to extract further plans and targets from the terrorists as well as their links so that their network can be dismantled.
Investigation sources said that they conducted the forensic examination of a mobile phone found on one of the terrorists, and learnt that they had been in direct contact with their handlers in Kandahar who gave them instructions.
The sources said that three of the detainees hailed from Kandahar and one from Nangarhar. They said that the mobile phone data showed they had recently conducted recce of the PA, adding that they could not carry out their attack because the assembly was not in session.
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