Officials of the Counter-Terrorism Department of the Sindh Police on Monday killed one and arrested five suspected militants in an intelligence-based operation in Karachi and foiled a potential terror plot, according to officials.
A shootout took place between the suspects and law enforcement agencies at Shah Latif Town, said CTD Deputy Inspector General Omar Shahid Hamid, adding that a stun grenade was used in the operation as well.
The National Counter Terrorism Authority had previously issued an alert expressing fears of a major terrorist attack in the city, Hamid said.
DIG Hamid said foreigners were present among the arrested suspects and a rickshaw fitted with explosives — for purported use in a suicide attack — was found at their hideout which was defused by members of the bomb disposal squad.
Weapons, explosives and suicide jackets were recovered in the operation as well, he said.
'Evidence of RAW's involvement'
Addressing a press conference at the CTD DIG office later in the day, Sindh Information Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah shared details of the ongoing interrogations and stated that six suspects were involved in the encounter — one suicide bomber was killed in the shootout and another was arrested.
The arrested suspects were identified as Zahidullah alias Suleiman, Bismillah alias Haji Lala, Mohammad Qasim alias Haji Siddiq, Inamullah alias Bilal and Gul Mohammad. Meanwhile, the deceased was identified as Mehmood.
Shah, who was accompanied at the presser by DIG Hamid and Sindh Inspector General of Police Mushtaq Mahar, said the suspects had "specifically targeted Sindh" with a focus on important institutions such as the Sindh Assembly, important personalities and sensitive areas. "It was an alarming situation that the material, weapons and equipment they possessed suggested it was a big [terror] operation."
He said that initial investigations showed most of the suspects hailed from Afghanistan, adding that "solid evidence has been found of [Indian agency] RAW's involvement."
DIG Hamid also said that while the investigation was ongoing, it appeared that the suspects were "operatives of a hostile agency", rather than part of a terror outfit. He said a joint investigation team will also be formed to carry out its own investigations alongside the current investigation.
He said that as per the rental agreement — signed in the name of one of the suspects — of the house the suspects were occupying, "they had arrived in the city 15-16 days ago". DIG Hamid added that the owner of the house would also be made part of the investigation.
DIG Hamid said the rickshaw found at the premises was to be used as a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED). The plan, according to information gleaned from the suspects, was for the VBIED to explode at the target after the suicide bombers.
"We are in a state of war, our enemy doesn't fight us in the open but uses our own people," said Shah and warned the supporters of the arrested suspects with a message: "You can't escape."
IG Mahar added that efforts were ongoing to neutralise any sleeper cells and further results of the interrogation would be shared.
Last month, the CTD had arrested a student of Karachi's NED University of Engineering and Technology over charges of "international terror financing".
“He was involved in sending money to families of militants linked with the global [militant] Islamic State group in Syria,” said DIG Hamid. According to the CTD, Khalid used to provide cash to an associate, named Zia, in Hyderabad, who converted it into dollars before sending it to Syria.
Speaking about the investigation, Hamid had said the CTD had received information that some people collected funds from Pakistan, which were sent to IS militants in Syria through various means. Acting on a tip-off, police detained the said suspect and seized two mobile phones from his possession on December 17, 2020.