KARACHI - Police on Wednesday claimed to have arrested two members of the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) over charges of their involvement in the deadly Sehwan blast, targeted killings of law enforcers, members of the Hazara and Christian communities in Balochistan, incidents of kidnappings for ransom and the murder of a senior official of a private firm in Karachi.

“Malir Police and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) carried out a joint action in Gadap area and apprehended two LeJ suspects,” Deputy Inspector General (DIG) East Amir Farooqi said.

The senior officer in his press conference described the held suspects — Furqan Bungalzai alias Azam and Ali Akbar alias Haji — as “dangerous terrorists”.

DIG Farooqi disclosed that the held suspects had also joined the global militant Islamic State group.

Bungalzai was commander of LeJ’s askari (militant) wing and was involved in several terror acts in Balochistan and Sindh. During an initial probe, he informed the investigators that Mufti Hidayatullah (now killed), Noman and Maqbool had planned the deadly Sehwan blast, while he had carried out reconnaissance of the Sehwan shrine and passed on information to Mufti Hidayatullah.

After the reconnaissance, Maqbool and Noman brought the suicide bomber, identified as Usman, to Sehwan, where he exploded himself on February 16, 2017, resulting in the death of 82 people and injuries to 383 others, including women and children.

During the interrogation, Bungalzai also confirmed that Mufti Hidayatullah was killed during an operation by security forces on July 20, 2018, in Kalat. Subsequently, the group’s Shura (consultation body) decided to take revenge for Hidayatullah’s killing and established the ‘Mufti force’ to this effect.

Three days after the killing of Hidayatullah, LeJ’s leader, Molvi Khair Mohammed, directed the held suspect, Bungalzai and Noman to target law enforcement agencies.

“I dropped the suicide bomber near [a] polling station at [a] bypass [in] Quetta,” Bungalzai told the investigators.

The suicide bomber blew himself up, targeting a parked police mobile on the day of the general election, July 25, 2018, killing 32 people, including one policeman.

Apart from bomb blasts, the LeJ militant, Bungalzai, was also involved in several killings, mostly in Balochistan, targeting members of the Shia Hazara and Christian communities as well as policemen.

The suspect told the police that they gunned down around four or five Hazaras who were travelling in a yellow cab near Pasni-Quetta road on Jun 4, 2018.

He was also involved in [targeted killings][4] of three policemen on Sariab Road in Quetta on June 11, 2017. They also killed one tailor on Sariab Road and a member of [the] Shia community in the Quetta bazaar.

Bungalzai and his accomplices carried out attacks on shops in Hazara Town Quetta, killing two shopkeepers there.

“He also confessed to killing three members of [the] Christian community on Arbab Khan Road in Quetta on April 2, 2018,” revealed the DIG East Farooqi.

The LeJ members also gunned down one religious scholar on Arif Gali in Quetta.

On May 27, 2018, Bungalzai and his accomplices attacked traffic police on Sariab Road in which two traffic policemen were martyred. In retaliatory firing by the policemen, two attackers, namely Mehmood and Rashid, were gunned down, while Furqan had managed to escape. Regarding the other held suspect, DIG East Ali Akbar pointed out that he was a member of LeJ. His son-in-law, Salman Badeni, was killed by security forces in Quetta.

“Akbar Ali was involved in kidnapping for ransom to generate funds for LeJ,” revealed Farooqi.

The held suspect, along with his accomplices, had kidnapped a general manager of a private firm, Abid Sohail, from the Tipu Sultan area in Karachi in Nov 2017 and kept him at an underground place inside a home in the Manghopir area, where they later killed him over the non-payment of ransom money, recalled the DIG.

They had demanded Rs350 million as ransom for the release of Abid Sohail. The victim’s body was recovered by the Anti-Violent Crime Cell of the police later on.

The held suspect along with his accomplices had also kidnapped one citizen, Raheel, from Gulistan-i-Jauhar and released him after taking Rs10 million as ransom. The other accomplices had already been arrested in this case of kidnapping for ransom.

DIG Farooqi pointed out that Balochistan police had been informed of the arrest of the LeJ militants and the police were on their way to Karachi to formally arrest them in connection with the cases registered in Balochistan.