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KARACHI: Police on Wednesday claimed to have arrested two suspected militants of the banned Lashkar-i-Jhangvi (LJ) for their alleged involvement in a bomb blast in Sehwan, targeted killings of law enforcers, members of the Hazara and Christian communities in Balochistan and kidnappings for ransom.

“The Malir police and a federal intelligence agency carried out a joint action in Gadap and apprehended the two LJ suspects,” said DIG East Amir Farooqi.

Speaking at a press conference, he identified the held suspects as Furqan Bungalzai alias Azam and Ali Akbar alias Haji.

Bungalzai was the commander of LJ’s militant wing and was involved in several acts of terrorism in Balochistan and Sindh, he added.

During initial investigations, he disclosed that Mufti Hidayatullah (who has been killed), Noman and Maqbool had planned the deadly 2017 Sehwan blast targeting the dargah of Hazrat Lal Shahbaz Qalandar for which he did a recce.

Police say suspects involved in suicide blasts, targeted killings and kidnapping for ransom cases

After he completed the task, Maqbool and Noman brought a “suicide bomber identified as Usman” to Sehwan Sharif, where he blew himself up on Feb 16, 2017 in the shrine killing 82 people and wounding 383, including women and children.

Suicide bombing on election day

Bungalzai also revealed that when Hidayatullah was killed during an operation in Kalat on July 20, 2018 his group had decided to take revenge of the killing and set up a “Mufti force” for it.

After three days of Hidayatullah’s killing, LJ’s leader Maulvi Khair Mohammed directed him and Noman to target law enforcement agencies.

“I dropped the suicide bomber near a polling station at the Quetta bypass,” he told the investigators. The suicide bomber targeted a parked police mobile on July 25, 2018 — the day of general election — in which 32 people, including a policeman, were killed, he said.

Targeted killings in Quetta

The suspect also told the police that he along with his accomplices gunned down four to five members of the Hazara community when they were travelling in a cab on Pasni-Quetta road on June 4, 2018.

He was also involved in the targeted killings of three policemen on Sariab Road, Quetta on June 11, 2017.

They also killed a tailor on Sariab Road as well as a man belonging to the Shia sect in Quetta. He and his accomplices had carried out attacks on shops in Hazara Town, Quetta and killed two shopkeepers.

“He also confessed to have killed three Christians on Arbab Khan Road in Quetta on April 2, 2018,” said the DIG East.

The LJ members also gunned down a religious scholar in Quetta.

On May 27, 2018, Bungalzai and his accomplices attacked traffic police on Sariab Road in Quetta in which two traffic policemen were killed. In retaliatory firing by the policemen, two attackers — Mehmood and Rashid — were gunned down.

Regarding the second suspect, the DIG said that he was also a member of the LJ and a high-profile militant, Salman Badini who was killed by security forces in Quetta, was his son-in-law.

Kidnappings for ransom

“Ali Akbar was involved in kidnapping for ransom to generate funds for LJ,” the DIG said.

He along with his accomplices had kidnapped the general manger of a private firm, Abid Sohail, from Tipu Sultan area in November 2017. They kept him at the basement of a house in Manghopir and later killed him over non-payment of the ransom money. They had demanded Rs350 million ransom for his release. The victim’s body was recovered by the Anti-Violent Crime Cell in a raid later.

The held suspect along with his accomplices had also kidnapped Raheel from Gulistan-i-Jauhar and released him after taking a ransom of Rs10m.

His other accomplices had already been arrested in the said kidnapping case.

The DIG said that the Balochistan police was informed about the arrest of the LJ militants and they were on their way to Karachi to formally arrest them in cases registered in their province.

He disclosed that the held suspects had later joined the militant Islamic State group.

Published in Dawn, February 21st, 2019