PESHAWAR: A commander of the militant Islamic State group’s Khorasan chapter (IS-K) and mastermind of suicide attack on Koocha Risaldar Shia mosque was killed along with a would-be suicide bomber in an early morning raid here on Saturday.

The intelligence-based operation was carried out by the Counter-Terrorism Department over the reported presence of IS-K commander Hassan Shah along with a suicide bomber in the Wali Abad area of Pishtakhara.

A highly placed official told Dawn that they were planning to hit a church in the provincial capital. “The police have already issued a threat alert about possible attack on a church in Peshawar,” the official while requesting anonymity said.

Hassan Shah was among the two handlers of the suicide bomber, who had blown himself up among the worshippers in Koocha Risaldar mosque, killing over 60 and injuring scores others.

The official said the IS-K terrorist had escaped to Karachi after the attack. However, the official said he was again called to the province, apparently to carry out major attacks.

He said the CTD had also arrested a local woman and a man from the scene.

“We have retrieved a treasure trove of information and evidence from the scene, which sheds light on terrorist network and its links,” the official said.

He said the IS-K terrorists had a sympathisers’ network in Karachi and south Punjab. However, he added they had shared their findings with the CTD and intelligence agencies. He said the would-be suicide bomber was an Afghan national of Tajik ethnicity.

The official said Hassan Shah was previously associated with the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and later switched to the IS-K.

On March 8, three terrorists of the IS-K network were killed during an IBO in Jamrud tehsil of Khyber.

Published in Dawn, May 15th, 2022

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