CHINIOT - Two hardened criminals were killed in a police shootout while their third accomplice made good his escape in a boat in River Chenab here the other day.

As per detail, the Bhowana Police was tipped-off that three hardened criminals who were wanted by the police in different districts had arrived on the bank of River Chenab to the farmhouse of Asif Ali, son of Shera in the vicinity of Sambhal village early in the morning. The Police rushed the spot and besieged the farmhouse at around 10am. The police asked the outlaws to surrender but they instead opened fire on them which was ensued by a shootout that lasted for about two hours. Resultantly, Zaheer alias Phoonay Shah, a resident of Chak 126/JB and Iftikhar alias Baghoo Jutt, a resident of Chak 24/JB, Sahianwala Faisalabad were killed in the cross-firing while Riaz alias Basra of Chak 132/JB got gunshot wounds and fled towards River Chenab. There he took a boat owner hostage at gunpoint and directed him to get him to the right bank where he snatched a horse and fled. However, the Chenab Nagar and Langrana police have launched a joint search in ‘Katcha’ areas on the right banks of the river while the Bhowana and Saddr police are search through the left banks to arrest the runaway outlaw.

Meanwhile, DPO Rai Zameerul Haq told the media that Zaheer had been involved in 17 cases of heinous crimes while Baghoo was wanted in more than 20 cases, adding that the runaway Riaz Basra was wanted in 23 cases of dacoity and other crimes in districts of Jhang, Faisalabad, Sargodha, Hafiz Abad and Chiniot.  It is to be recalled that adjoining areas on both sides of River Chenab have become safe havens for criminals due to lack of accessibility. The district police have developed a network of informers in these areas due to which their movement has been restricted or limited.