DERA ISMAIL KHAN: Qari Ajmal, the mastermind of the 2009 attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore, was killed and his three accomplices were arrested in a raid conducted by Nato and Afghan forces in Afghanistan’s Paktika province during the night bet­ween Friday and Saturday.

Sources in the Taliban groups in Paktika confirmed the death of Qari Ajmal. Nato officials said that an important Taliban leader was killed and three others were arrested, but refrained from confirming that the man was Qari Ajmal.

The sources said that Nato and Afghan special ground forces, backed by Chanute helicopters, drones and jet fighters, had stormed a compound in the Sarobi area of Wargeen district in Paktika, killing Qari Ajmal and arresting his three aides. They were shifted to an unknown place in Afghanistan for interrogation.

Reliable sources in the Khan Said group of Mehsud Taliban, Shehryar group (Hakimullah group) and Tora Shpa (dark night) group confirmed that the dead Taliban leader was Qari Ajmal.

According to them, Ajmal’s funeral prayer was offered in Sarobi at 12 noon on Saturday and attended by a large number of Taliban militants fighting Nato and Afghan forces.

The sources said Qari Ajmal, who hailed from Bahawalpur, was associated with the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. He was wanted by security forces and police in various cases, including a suicide blast on a public meeting of former prime minister Shaukat Aziz, an attack on Islamabad’s Marriott Hotel and several other attacks.

Qari Ajmal fled to Waziristan after the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team. Eight people, including six policemen, were killed and six Lankan players injured. He later fled to Afghanistan where he, along with the Mehsud Taliban, had carried out attacks on US-led Nato and Afghan forces.

Punjab police claimed that four terrorists involved in the attack on the Sri Lankan team had been killed during an “encounter” on Aug 27 in the Manawa area, near Lahore. Police identified them as Zubair, Abdul Wahab, Adnan Arshad and Lateefur Rehman.

Qari Ajmal was the most important leader of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan after Azam Tariq, spokesman for the banned organisation who was also killed in Paktika on Sept 25.

Published in Dawn October 10th, 2016

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