QUETTA: A suspected militant leader of the banned Lashkar-i-Jhangvi was killed during a search operation jointly launched by the police and Frontier Corps in the mountainous areas of Splingy and Qabu of Mastung district.

Addressing a press conference along with FC Sector Commander Brigadier Tasawar on Monday, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Quetta, Abdul Razzaq Cheema said the FC and police had conducted the search operation on information about the hideouts of the banned group three days ago.

He said when the security forces cordoned off the area and started searching, armed men hiding in the mountains opened fire on the FC vehicle. As a result, an FC man was injured and taken to the Combined Military Hospital in Quetta.

A heavy exchange of fire between the security forces and suspected militants continued for several hours. “One hardcore militant leader of the banned Lashkar-i-Jhangvi was killed in the gun battle,” Mr Cheema claimed and identified the militant as Maqsood Ahmed, a resident of the Manghopir area of Karachi.

He said a large quantity of arms and ammunition was seized from the militants’ hideout. He said Maqsood was involved in various terrorist attacks in Karachi and other areas.

“Suspected Lashkar-i-Jhangvi militant leader and others were trying to establish their hideout in the rugged Koh-i-Mehran area,” Mr Cheema said. The operation is continuing and “we will share more information after completing it”, he added.

In reply to a question, the DIG said the killing of three men in the Jan Mohammad Road area on Sunday night was a sectarian incident.

Responding to another question, he said that law enforcement agencies would protect the people from all walks of life.

Mr Cheema said that a number of security personnel belonging to police, Frontier Corps, Levies and other law enforcement agencies had sacrificed their lives to protect the people.

He said that a large number of security personnel had been deployed in Hazara Town, Jan Mohammad Road, the areas dominated by Christians and other sensitive places in Quetta and other parts of Balochistan.

He said 200 police personnel who had completed special training under the army would be deployed in the city. They would patrol different areas of the provincial capital on motorbikes. “We are deploying extra force at all sensitive places,” he added.

Mr Cheema said the country was facing a war-like situation and the government was making all-out efforts to restore peace in every town and city of Balochistan. “We have also provided security to the Christian community after holding consultation with their leaders,” he added.

Published in Dawn, May 1st, 2018