Investigators say ‘LJ militants who escaped from prison’ behind policemen’s killing

Updated 04 Jul 2019

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Police claim to have arrested a woman and a man for facilitating the June 17 attack. — AFP/File
Police claim to have arrested a woman and a man for facilitating the June 17 attack. — AFP/File

KARACHI: Police on Wednesday held outlawed Lashkar-i-Jhangvi responsible for last month’s targeted killing of two policemen of the Sindh Reserve Police (SRP) in an Orangi Town area.

They said that two LJ militants, who had escaped from prison in 2017, were involved in the killing.

On June 17, four assailants gunned down constables Ahmed Ali and Allah Dino in Mominabad.

Police claim to have arrested a woman and a man for facilitating the June 17 attack

“Both the policemen were killed by a Lashkar-i-Jhangvi group led by Sheikh Mumtaz alias Firoun,” said SSP-East Azfar Mahesar.

Mumtaz alias Firoun and Ahmed Khan alias Munna were languishing in jail and facing trial in various terrorism cases until they managed to escape from the judicial complex of the Karachi central prison on June 14, 2017.

While both of them are still at large, SSP Mahesar claimed to have arrested their two alleged facilitators, including a woman.

“The Soldier Bazaar police and a civilian intelligence agency in a joint action apprehended two ‘facilitators’ belonging to outlawed LJ and recovered two pistols and two grenades from them,” he said.

He identified the suspects as Rashid and Sakeena Naz.

The SSP claimed that they also recovered the motorbike used in the attack.

The police said Mumtaz and Ahmed had fled to Afghanistan following their escape from prison and had returned to Karachi recently.

“He [Firoun] had been in hiding in Gulshan-i-Zia [in Orangi Town] at the house of his incarcerated accomplice, Afroz, for the last over five months by changing his appearance,” the SSP said.

Afroz, lodged in Sukkur prison at present, was arrested by the Counter-Terrorism Department.

When they returned to Karachi, Firoun’s younger brother, Muqeem alias Shan, had arranged their stay at the house of held Sakeena Naz.

Naz’s brother, Zainul Abidin, was also a member of an alleged team of target killers, the SSP said.

She also helped investigators identify two suspects seen in the CCTV footage of the scene of last month’s killing of policemen.

‘Murders for extortion’

She told the police that Mumtaz alias Firoun was among the assailants. She also identified another suspect as Mamnoon alias Sameer.

The SSP said that suspect Rashid was a close aide of Mumtaz and also involved in extortion. He used to get bhatta (extortion) from traders and others on the instructions of Mumtaz.

“The held suspect, Rashid used to do ‘mediation’ between traders and militants to extract extortion,” the police official said, adding that he also used to arrange meetings of family members with Mumtaz at the Karachi central prison before his escape.

The SSP said that another suspect involved in the killings of the two constables was Siraj, who “was the ex-husband of Sakeena”.

Other suspects identified as Areeb and Ahmed Ali were also members of the LJ’s hitmen’s team.

Mumtaz Firoun was the district West ‘chief’ of the banned LJ, he said.

Besides targeted killings of policemen, this LJ gang also killed people for failing to pay protection money, SSP Mahesar said.

Pictures released for public

The police also released pictures of the members and facilitators of the LJ’s hitmen’s team and sought cooperation of the public for their arrest.

Concerted efforts were under way to arrest the other members, said the officer.

Both Mumtaz Firoun and Munna were arrested by the CTD in 2013.

At that time, CTD’s Raja Umar Khattab claimed that Mumtaz was involved in targeted killing of 57 people, including members of the Shia community and police. He was charged in 32 cases.

Mr Khattab had stated that Ahmed alias Munna of Korangi was involved in seven targeted killings.

They belonged to the Qasim Rasheed group linked with the Naeem Bukhari-led LJ.

At that time, the authorities had also claimed to have “almost” wiped out the Naeem Bukhari-led LJ faction. However, after the escape of Firoun they apprehended that the outfit might become “active” again.

The escape of two high-profile militants from prison exposed weaknesses in the overall security system of the city’s main penitentiary. An inquiry into the escape resulted in termination from services of several jail officials on charges of criminal negligence.

Published in Dawn, July 4th, 2019