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SAHIWAL: The two terrorists who had recently been shot dead in an encounter with a Counter Terrorism Department team had killed a journalist and also made an attempt on a CTD officer’s life, it is learnt.

During the last four months, Mirza Usman and Zeeshan alias Shani, residents of Ganj Shakar Colony and Kot Khadim Ali Shah, respectively, were involved in sectarian murders of journalist Khalid Mahmood and Dr Tanveer, sources told Dawn on Wednesday.

They said the two terrorists had also targeted Mirza Asif, CTD’s Sahiwal district officer, who survived attempt on his life though his driver succumbed to injuries. Belonging to the outlawed outfits, sources said, the terrorists had connection with Al Qaeda network and Shani also worked as gunman of commander Ishaq, a senior commander of Jaish-i-Muhammad.

“Shani was directly involved in the killing of journalist Khalid Butt in November 2016 and attack on Mirza Asif who was critically injured in December last. Usman, along with an accomplice, shot dead Dr Tanveer at his clinic in February 2017,” they said.

Both these terrorists were killed in an encounter with CTD officials on the night between March 4 and 5 at Garh Fateh Shah, Mamon Kanjan, Faisalabad. Inspector Fida, Pakpattan CTD officer, laid down his life fighting the terrorists while CTD officials Iqbal Joya and Ramzan and foot tracer were critically injured.

Sources said Shani, along with five or six men, had a piece of agriculture land near Noor Shah and they would frequently meet and police and a sectarian community were their main target.

The LEAs tracked a location where terrorists were present in shanties provided by Fahim Jhakar at Garh Fateh Shah. Later, the Harrapa police also joined the operation and after a 30-minute exchange of fire four suspects were arrested with explosive, remote control devices, detonators and hand grenades.

The security personnel arrested Muhammad Nawaz Kathiya alias Rab Nawaz, vice chairman, Gilou Kay Kathiya Union Council, Dadra Bala who provided agriculture land to Shani and Mirza Usman in the last few months. They also took a person into custody in Jahaz Ground, Sahiwal, and claimed to have got information about the network being run by Shani.

District Police Officer Dr Atif Ikram told Dawn that the bodies of both terrorists were handed over to their families on Tuesday night. Their autopsy was done in Faisalabad on Sunday.

The CTD Lahore registered a case against four captured terrorists under ATA and sections 302 and 224 of PPC. Police claim to have arrested 25 suspects for further interrogation.

Arrested: Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) claim to have arrested a prayer leader on suspicion of his links with militants.

Hafiz Muhammad Ahmed has been associated with a school for the last 12 years and arrested in a swoop after killing of terrorists Zeeshan alias Shani and Mirza Usman in an encounter.

Sources said he acted as a “facilitator” in two sectarian killings and attack on CTD officer Mirza Asif.

Published in Dawn, March 9th, 2017