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FAISALABAD: The Counter-Terrorism Department claims to have gunned down two men associated with the militant Islamic State (IS) group who were allegedly involved in the kidnapping of former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s son.

A CTD spokesperson said the department received information that some militants were hiding in a rented house near Pul Dengro on Sargodha Road. He said a local residing in the neighbourhood — where the alleged militants were hiding — found their activities suspicious and informed the law-enforcement agencies.

Following the information, he said, an intelligence-based operation was jointly conducted by the CTD and a sensitive agency on Monday night.

The militants were behind several high-profile cases, including kidnapping of US national Warren Weinstein

During the operation, the raiding team traded fire with militants, resulting in the death of two suspects identified as Adeel Hafeez and Usman Haroon. He said as per initial findings, the militants were associated with the militant IS group and had planned an attack on personnel of a sensitive agency in Faisalabad. However, the spokesman added, these attacks plotted by the pair had been foiled.

He said two suicide jackets, one pistol, two hand grenades and live rounds of bullets were seized from the militants’ hideout.

The CTD spokesperson said the militants’ network had been involved in several high-profile terrorist activities, including the killing of two officials of an intelligence agency in Multan — Umar Mubeen and Yasir Ali.

They were also behind the kidnappings of the son-in-law of Gen Tariq Majeed, US national Warren Weinstein, and Brig Tahir as well as ex-premier Yousuf Raza Gilani’s son Ali Haider — who was rescued in Afghanistan in 2016 by US forces.

The spokesman added that the militants had also killed two police officers in D Ground, Faisalabad, in an attempt to kidnap a senior officer of a law-enforcement agency.

Mr Weinstein, an American development worker, was abducted by Al Qaeda in 2011. He was taken from the city of Lahore but was accidentally killed in a US drone strike in 2015 on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. The American worker’s accidental death was announced by Washington in 2015.

The CTD official provided no specific information about the role the two militants had in Mr Weinstein’s case.

Published in Dawn, January 16th, 2019