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KARACHI: Police’s Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) on Monday claimed to have arrested six suspected militants, including a policeman, affiliated with a banned sectarian outfit who had been involved in the killing of 50 persons since 2003 in the city on sectarian grounds, CTD DIG Abdullah Shaikh said.

The officer claimed that the held militants got training from abroad and they were being paid through a network. However, the CTD official said that “important progress” had been made in investigation into the deadly armed attack on prominent religious scholar Mufti Taqi Usmani.

Speaking at a press conference at his office, DIG Abdullah Shaikh said that when sectarian killings reared their ugly head in Karachi recently after a considerable period, they started investigation into it and detected an old network of hitmen behind it.

“The Civil Lines CTD carried out an intelligence-based action on Business Recorder Road and apprehended six suspects,” said the officer, adding that some of the held militants’ names were in the Red Book of most wanted suspects.

CTD DIG claims the held militants, including a policeman, got training from abroad

The held suspects belonged to the banned Sipah-i-Muhammad, disclosed the officer.

They were identified as Mohammed Haider, alias Chhota (whose name was at page 140 in the Red Book), Syed Mehtab Husain, alias Muchhar (whose name was at p136 of the book), Gul Akbar, alias Abdullah (whose name was at p142 of the book), police constable Syed Haider Abbas Rizvi, alias Policewala, Asif Raza, alias Khalid, and Kamran, alias Pathan.

“During initial probe, startling revelations have emerged,” said the DIG, adding that the held suspects got training from abroad and they were being provided arms, motorcycles and financial assistant through a network.

These alleged hitmen were being provided Rs40,000 each as monthly salary and Rs20,000 per month for carrying out reconnaissance.

Two of the held suspects — Mohammed Haider and Syed Mehtab Hussain — were leading this outfit which was being provided “financial assistance from abroad”.

One suspect, identified as Syed Waseem Ahsan Naqvi (whose name was at p116 of the Red Book), was providing financial assistance to the militants through Zahoor Mehdi.

They had been involved in killings in the metropolis from 2003 to 2019, mostly targeting members of their purported rival sect.

“They were involved in 31 criminal cases in which 50 people were killed,” said the CTD DIG.

These victims included four policemen and two security guards during an armed attack on Aurangzeb Farooqi [of the banned ASWJ], murder of Maulana Ahmed Bakhsh advocate and his guard, killing of doctors, double murder of a man and his nephew in Shah Faisal Colony, killing of three workers of the banned Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan in Mobina Town, murder of three brothers during an armed attack on a milk shop near the Korangi Darul Uloom, killing of two workers of the SSP near Nagan Chowrangi and murder of a vendor near Yusuf Plaza.

A JIT was being established to further grill the held suspects.

The police claimed to have seized three Kalashnikovs, two 9mm pistols, a 30-bore pistol, a car, two motorcycles and a large quantity of ammunition from their custody.

Mufti Taqi Usmani case

Answering a question regarding a deadly attack on prominent religious scholar Mufti Taqi Usmani, in which three persons, including a police guard, were killed near the NIPA roundabout in Gulshan-i-Iqbal, CTD DIG Abdullah Shaikh claimed that “important progress” had been made in the investigation and the media would be briefed about it soon.

The DIG said that a special team led by CTD official Raja Umar Khattab had busted this network of alleged terrorists and detected terrorism financing.

Five IS militants held

Separately, the Malir police claimed to have detained five suspects linked with the banned militant Islamic State group.

Acting on a tip-off, the police apprehended five suspects in Taiser Town, said Malir SSP Irfan Bahadur.

A hand grenade, illegal arms, a laptop and a large quantity of ammunition were seized from their custody.

They were identified as Abdullah, alias Hamza, Waqar, Waseem, Naveed and Muddassir.

“The held suspects used to recruit people for IS through social media,” said SSP Bahadur.

The police have registered a case against them on terrorism charges and under the Telegraph Act, and their alleged criminal record was being checked.

Published in Dawn, April 16th, 2019