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QUETTA: Law enforcement agencies have arrested the leader of a gang of hitmen belonging to the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), who were involved in the killing of 16 police officers over the last three months in the city, and raids are being conducted to arrest other members of the gang.

This was disclosed by Balochistan Chief Minister Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo at a press conference here on Tuesday after presiding over a meeting on the law and order situation in the province. Provincial Home Minister Mir Sarfaraz Ahmed Bugti accompanied the chief minister.

“Fazal Haq Ghaibzai, the ring leader of the TTP target killers, was arrested during a joint operation by police, the Counter Terrorism Department and the Frontier Corps on Tuesday night on the basis of intelligence information,” Mr Bizenjo said.

He said Ghaibzai had confessed during interrogation that he and five members of his gang had killed some senior police officers and FC personnel in different areas of Quetta.

The chief minister said Ghaibzai was a resident of Quetta and his father was a prayer leader at the mosque of a local school.

Sarfaraz Bugti said Ghaibzai had told interrogators that Raziq Achakzai, an Afghan commander who ran terrorism training camps in Spin Buldak, had provided money to his gang.

“Ghaibzai said Asim Muhammad Hasni, one of his accomplices, used his wife in different terrorist acts and for hiding weapons. He said Pir Ain-uz-Zaman is emir of the TTP Balochistan and the killers’ gang was formed on his order,” Mr Bugti added.

He said security forces had found a lead about the suicide attack on a Quetta church in December last year and recovered the wireless set that had been in use of traffic sergeant Hafiz Niazi who was killed on Iqbal Road in Quetta.

Mr Bugti said that during the last two months there were threats of suicide attacks in Quetta and other areas of Balochistan, but security forces had foiled over a dozen such attempts and arrested several suspects.

A video of the suspected terrorist was shown to the media in which he said the TTP Balochistan emir’s associates, including his deputy, were based in Spin Boldak.

Published in Dawn, April 4th, 2018