KARACHI: Police on Thursday claimed to have killed five alleged militants, who were apparently planning to attack a Muharram procession using a remote-controlled vehicle, in an ‘encounter’ off the Superhighway.

Malir SSP Rao Anwar Ahmed Khan said the deceased had been “accomplices” of Saad Aziz, a co-accused in the Safoora bus carnage case, which had left over 45 members of the Shia Ismaili community, including 18 women, dead. The incident occurred two years ago when the bus the victims were travelling in came under attack near Anara Garden, a residential compound of the Ismaili community.

Thursday’s encounter took place behind Anara Garden off the Superhighway, according to officials.

The Malir SSP said they had acted on information provided by intelligence agencies and raided a suspected hideout near a cattle market within the jurisdiction of the Sachal police. He said when the police surrounded the residential compound, the ‘militants’ opened fire on them.

The five ‘militants’, said to be affiliated with various banned outfits, were killed in the ensuing exchange of fire, the SSP said.

The Malir police claimed to have seized a large quantity of arms and ammunition, including hand grenades and rocket launchers, from the militants’ hideout.

The police officer said that one of the deceased was identified as Mohammed Amir Sharif, “a wanted terrorist affiliated with the Al-Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent (AQIS)”.

SSP Anwar said: “Amir was a commander of the AQIS and had links with Egyptian militant Hamza Dhanrwai. He hailed from Faisalabad but was residing in Manzoor Colony in Karachi.” The alleged militant was an electrical engineer by profession and an “expert in drone technology”, he said, adding: “He was preparing a technology to control drones and hit targets for the AQIS.”

The SSP said the militants killed were planning terror attacks using drone technology. They had prepared a ‘remote-controlled car’ that could have been used to target Muharram processions in the metropolis, the officer claimed.

SSP Anwar told Dawn that Amir Sharif had also “prepared two missiles...He had also hit a drone, which had gone down in Miramshah.” He said they had also been involved in targeted killings of army officers and policemen as well as bank robberies.

The deceased militants had been aides to Saad Aziz, the SSP claimed.

Saad Aziz and four others were sentenced to death in 2016 by a military court for killing over 45 members of the Shia Ismaili community. Aziz, a graduate of the Institute of Business Administration, has filed an appeal against his conviction in the Sindh High Court, which is still pending.

“Further investigation is under way,” said SSP Anwar.

He said police were gathering information about the identity of other militants killed in the encounter. It would be shared with the media after verification, he said, adding that the militants killed had links with the AQIS, banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and Lashkar-i-Jhangvi.

“Militants of these three outfits are increasingly joining the global Islamic State group,” the officer claimed.

Published in Dawn, September 29th, 2017

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