ISLAMABAD/Karachi/Peshawar - More than 100 suspected militants have been killed and many arrested in the past 24 hours during intelligence-based operations across the country, including Punjab, military said yesterday.

“The intelligence agencies are making progress to unearth networks behind the recent terrorism incidents,” said a statement issued by the ISPR, without giving a breakup of the killings and arrests.

The sweeping action came after a fresh surge in terrorists attacks in the country. At least 76 people died on Thursday in an attack claimed by the Islamic State group at the shrine of Hazrat Lal Shehbaz Qalandar in Sehwan town of Sindh. The toll had soared to 88 on Friday as dozens of the around 250 injured were critical.

The devastating suicide blast came after a series of bloody extremist assaults this week, including a powerful Taliban suicide bomb in Lahore which killed 13 people and wounded dozens.

The ISPR said the military had found linkages to militant support networks operating from across the border. “The border has been closed since last night due to security reasons. No cross-border or unauthorised entry will be allowed into Pakistan from Afghanistan,” it added.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa Friday visited Sehwan and vowed to eliminate militants. The prime minister said the terrorism will be defeated “with the full force of the state” while Gen Bajwa said from now on there will be no restraint against the attackers as well as the abettors and facilitators wherever they may be.

The ISPR statement said security forces have been given special orders to maintain strict vigilance all along the border, it added.

“Army is for security of people of Pakistan against all types of threat. Nation should stay steadfast with full confidence with their security forces. We shall not let the hostile agenda succeed whatever it may cost,” the army chief was quoted as saying.

The law enforcement and security agencies gunned down at least 27 suspected terrorists in Karachi and 25 in different parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata on Friday. Two most-wanted terrorists were killed in a shootout in Sariab area of Quetta.

Karachi encounters

As many as 18 suspected terrorists were killed during two predawn operations by the paramilitary Rangers in Manghopir and Super Highway areas of Karachi. Malir District Police claimed to have shot dead nine more militants.

Security agencies claimed that the militants killed in the encounters were planning major terror activities in Karachi, including a potential attack on Rangers Headquarters in the city.

The militants killed were affiliated with Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, TTP, Jamaatul Ahrar faction of TTP and a self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) group.

Security agencies believe that Daish or IS was actually patronising different local and regional militant groups to carry out terrorist attacks inside Pakistan.

Eight of the 11 terrorists killed in Manghopir area were identified as Malik Tasaduq Hussain, Amin alias Kala, Arman Ahmed alias Umair, Yasir Siddiqui, Noshad Khan alias Mama, Sheraz Ahmed, Sheraz alias Sajjad and Azizullah.

Three of the seven terrorists killed by Rangers in Super Highway raid were identified as the members of the Abu Zar Burmi group of IS and their names were: Yasin alias Chohto, Rashid alias Noor Alam alias Shoaib and Hidayatullah. Yasin is said to be the Number 2 in the group and had been involved in various cases of terrorism.

A spokesperson for the paramilitary force said, “They (the killed militants) were all hardcore terrorists associated with different proscribed organisations.”

Malik Tasaduq Hussain was associated with LeJ and JuA, and carried Rs500,000 as head money, he said. Besides many other acts of terrorism, Malik had also been involved in the kidnap-cum-murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl in Karachi over a decade ago, in March 2002 in Karachi.

Malir SSP Rao Anwar said police raided the house of father-in-law of a militant organisation’s Karachi chapter chief on Super Highway, sparking an exchange of fire. One of the killed militants, Razi Muhammad, was a suicide bomber, he claimed.

SSP Anwar claimed these terrorists were affiliated with Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and were plotting major terror activity in the metropolis, including a major attack on Rangers headquarters.

 

KP, Fata ops

As many as 25 alleged militants were killed in various encounters in different parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata on Friday.

The first encounter took place in the Toro Wari area of Orakzai Agency early in the morning, in which two militants were killed. In another encounter, four militants were killed in the Darawar Mamozai area of Orakzai.

The bodies of the dead militants were shifted to Babar Mela, the headquarters of the agency. Security forces also seized suicide jackets, weapons and cartridges from the sites of the operations.

Near Regi Modal Town, police killed three alleged terrorists when they fired on police during a search operation. Police also recovered jackets and weapons from their possession.

Security forces carried out shelling on suspected hideouts of militants in Renao Parchao near Pak-Afghan border after terrorists attacked a security forces post from Afghanistan. The shelling resulted in the killing of six militants.

At least 10 hideouts were targeted in the heavy shelling. Sources said two Frontier Constabulary personnel were injured in the fire by militants from across the border.

The local administration has directed the residents of the Samsay area of Loy-Shelman to vacate as the areas fall in the range of militants shelling.

The Torkham border, which was closed the other night, remained closed on Friday for all kind of traffic, Khasadar sources said.

Tight security arrangements have also been put in place in Tehsil Landi Kotal. Extra troops of Khasadar and Levies were deployed at all mosques for Friday prayers. The main bazaar of the town remained closed on Friday.

Two terrorists were killed in the Shabak area of Kurram Agency when they were trying to plant explosive material. Security forces opened fire on them, killing them on the spot. The bodies were shifted to Cheri check post.

Two bodies, said to be of militants, were recovered in the Dama Dola area of Bajaur Agency, while another two bodies were recovered on Darabn Road near the Tikan area.

Four terrorists were killed by police in the Baka Khail area of Bannu. Police also recovered four AK-47 rifles and 12 magazines.

Two militants were killed in clashes with security forces in the Shengara Darea area of Barawal subdivision in Upper Dir in the early morning, police sources said.

Police said that two militants identified as Irfanullah, 23, a resident of Wari Payeen, and Ameer Bahadar, 27, a resident of Jekat were killed in an exchange of fire with security forces in the Shengara Payen area near Pak-Afghan border.

Body of a local politician was found in the Almass locality in the Usheri Dara area in the jurisdiction of the Gandigar police station.

Gandigar Police told The Nation that the deceased was identified as Mohammad Ali, 42, a resident of Almass. Source said the deceased had no enmity with anyone and he was shot dead by unknown assailants last night.

Quetta Action

The security forces killed two most-wanted terrorists in a shootout operation conducted in Darakhshan area near Sariab Road here on Friday.

According to security sources, two personnel of Balochistan Frontier Corps sustained injuries in the exchange of fire with the terrorists. The killed terrorists belonged to a banned outfit, and arms were also recovered from them.

Pindi search operation

Search and comb operations in areas of Rawalpindi district have been enhanced and security apparatus has been put on high alert.

An ISPR statement reads that a conference chaired by Rawalpindi Corps Commander and attended by high-ups of law enforcement agencies was held on Friday to take stock of security situation and review the response mechanism to deal with the terror threat.

It said that security forces and intelligence outfits have been instructed to further intensify combing and targeted operations with the aim to eliminate terrorists and sleepers cells.

Agencies add: Islamabad has denied the presence of IS, despite several high-profile attacks and the group’s apparent affiliation with homegrown militants, such as the banned Sunni sectarian organisation Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ).

“I think they (IS) are capable of doing this” with help from homegrown groups, security expert Amir Rana said of the shrine bombing, as analyst Imtiaz Gul warned the group would claim more such attacks.

Gul also warned there are “visible signs” that factions of the umbrella Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which is distinct from the Afghan Taliban, are regrouping after a military crackdown.

TTP faction Jamaat-ul-Ahrar claimed the Lahore attack on Monday, days after it announced a fresh offensive. Two members of a bomb disposal team in Quetta, capital of southwestern Balochistan province, were killed the same day defusing a device there.