Pakistan

LeJ chief Malik Ishaq killed in police 'encounter' in southern Punjab

MUZAFFARGARH: Sixteen terrorists including Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) Chieftain Malik Ishaq and his two sons were killed in an encounter at Muzaffargarh. The LeJ chief and his group were involved in many sectarian attacks and cases of terrorism including lethal attacks on Hazaras in Quetta and the 2009 attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team.

According to details received by ARY News, Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) of Punjab Police carried out a raid in the jurisdiction of Saddar Police Station.

The fleeing suspects opened fire at the anti-terror group due to which six officials were injured. The law enforcers gunned down 16 terrorists due to the retaliatory fire.

Police has stated that the saboteurs were planning to carry out a major terrorist in southern Punjab. Large number of hand grenades and suicide jackets were also recovered from the slain terrorists.

Their ages were between 25 to 30 year and the bodies were shifted to District Headquarters Hospital (DHQ) Muzaffargarh.

More than 100 murder cases were pending against Malik Ishaq and he was also placed in the most wanted list of the international terrorists.

AFP adds: Ishaq’s group was behind some of Pakistan’s worst sectarian attacks was killed in a shootout with police Wednesday, authorities said.

He was shot dead along with several other senior Laskhar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) leaders in Punjab. LeJ, long seen as close to Al-Qaeda and more recently accused of developing links with the Islamic State group, has a reputation as one of Pakistan’s most ruthless militant groups.

Ishaq, who has been in and out of police custody in recent years, was arrested on Saturday and was being moved when loyalists attacked the convoy in Muzaffargarh, a senior police official who took part in the encounter told AFP on condition of anonymity.

“The police retaliated and in the encounter Ishaq, his two sons and 11 others were killed, while six policemen were injured,” he said.

Punjab Home Minister Shuja Khanzada confirmed to AFP that Ishaq and “13 other sectarian militants including two of his sons” had been killed in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Another senior police official said the attack came after Ishaq and the other LeJ cadres had been taken to recover a cache of explosives.

The cache included “three water coolers full of explosive, detonators, a Kalashnikov, some rifles and hundreds of bullets,” the police official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

“After the recovery when police were returning back, at around 3:00am, more than a dozen terrorists attacked the convoy and tried to rescue Ishaq and others,” the police official said.

He said all the six militants in police custody were killed along with eight of the attackers, while some of the would-be rescuers fled.

Mushtaq Rasool, chief doctor at the government-run Muzaffargarh District Hospital, confirmed receiving 14 dead bodies.

There has been no immediate reaction from LeJ but police encounters in Pakistan have often being viewed with suspicion.

Ishaq gained notoriety for his anti-Shia rhetoric and has been accused of masterminding dozens of attacks against the minority group.

LeJ had claimed responsibility for some of the most brazen attacks on Shias in Pakistan’s recent history including a January 2013 bombing in the city of Quetta that killed over a hundred members of the Shia Hazara group.

In February 2013, LeJ claimed responsibility for another attack in the same neighbourhood that killed around 80 members from the Hazara community.

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