Police’s Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) on Monday said it has arrested six suspected militants including a serving policeman who were affiliated with a banned sectarian outfit, officials said.
The suspects had been involved in the killings of 50 people between 2003 and 2019 in Karachi on sectarian grounds and mainly targeted members of their supposed rival sect, according to CTD Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Abdullah Shaikh.
The senior police officer said that the held suspects received training abroad and were being paid through a network.
Speaking at a press conference at his office, DIG Shaikh said that when sectarian killings reared their ugly head again in Karachi recently after a considerable time, police started an investigation into and detected an old network of target killers behind it.
“The CTD Civil Lines carried out an intelligence-based action on the Business Recorder Road and apprehended six suspects,” the officer said, adding that some of the arrested suspects' names were included in the 'Red Book' of the most wanted suspects.
All of them belonged to the banned Sipah-e-Muhammad, disclosed the DIG.
They were identified as Mohammed Haider alias Chota, Syed Mehtab Husain alias Muchar, Gul Akbar alias Abdullah, police constable Syed Haider Abbas Rizvi alias Policewala, Asif Raza alias Khalid and Kamran alias Pathan.
“During the initial probe, startling revelations have emerged,” said DIG Shaikh. He said the suspects were being provided arms, motorcycles and financial assistance through a network.
These alleged target killers were being provided Rs40,000 per month as pay and Rs20,000 per month for carrying out reconnaissance.
Two of the suspects, Mohammed Haider and Mehtab, were leading the outfit which was being provided "financial assistance from abroad".
“They were involved in 31 criminal cases in which 50 people were killed,” DIG Shaikh revealed, adding that a special team led by CTD officer Raja Umar Khattab had busted this network of alleged terrorists and detected terrorism financing.
They are suspected of involvement in: the killing of four policemen and two gunmen during an armed attack on Maulana Aurangzeb Farooqi, murder of Advocate Maulana Ahmed Bux and his guard, killing of doctors, double murder of a man and his nephew in Shah Faisal Colony, killings of three workers of banned Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) in Mobina Town, murder of three brothers during an attack on a milk shop near Darul Uloom Korangi, killings of two SSP workers near Nagan Chowrangi and the murder of a vendor near Yusuf Plaza.
A joint investigation team is being established to further probe the arrested suspects.
Police officials said they have seized three Kalashnikovs, two 9mm pistols, one 30-bore pistol, one car, two motorcycles and a large quantity of ammunition from their possession.
Mufti Taqi Usmani case
In response to a question regarding last month's deadly attack on prominent religious scholar Mufti Taqi Usmani, in which three people including a police guard lost their lives near NIPA roundabout in Gulshan-i-Iqbal, DIG Shaikh said that "important progress" has been made in the investigation and the media would be informed about it soon.