ISLAMABAD, Nov 19: A former head of the army’s elite commando force, Maj-Gen (retd) Ameer Faisal Alvi, and his driver were gunned down here on Wednesday morning.

Gen (retd) Alvi, who commanded the Special Services Group (SSG) during the first major assault on militants in South Waziristan in 2004, was killed near his home on the outskirts of the city.

Officials said this was the first incident in which a high-profile military officer once directly linked to the anti-terror operation had been gunned down. They suspected that the retired SSG chief had been killed by militants.

Gen Alvi was going to his communication technology firm from his Bahria Town home when the assailants intercepted his car as it slowed down at a speed-breaker near the PWD Colony and sprayed it with bullets.

According to the post-mortem report, Mr Alvi was hit by eight bullets, three in his head, and his driver by seven. The military and police started preliminary investigations taking it to be a case of target killing.

The Crime Investigating Department of police was also looking into the possibility of involvement of the banned Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, an official said. Other militant groups linked to Al Qaeda or Taliban in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) were also being considered as suspects, but officials said they had not found any clue pointing to any particular group or individual.

Maj-Gen (retd) Alvi had spearheaded several prominent commando operations. He acquired fame during a series of security operations in Angoor Adda, Wana and other parts of South Waziristan, in which a large number of Arabs, Uzbeks, Chechens, Afghans and local Taliban were killed.

Official sources said the most publicised operation carried out by the SSG during his tenure was against militants led by Abdullah Mehsud who had kidnapped two Chinese engineers. One of the hostages was freed while the other died in the assault on the militants’ hideout.

Gen Alvi retired in 2006 and set up a communication technology firm.

He did not have any special security arrangement and the assailants easily escaped.

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