Karachi: The head of Al-Qaeda’s Karachi network and his accomplice were shot dead in a densely-populated Gulshan-i-Iqbal neighbourhood in the early hours of Tuesday in a shootout with personnel of law enforcement and intelligence agencies that also claimed the life of an intelligence officer, officials said.
The authorities claimed that the killing of the two operatives of the globally-declared terrorist outfit as a major success, citing that they were present in Karachi for a “major activity” that could either be an attack on one of the “sensitive installations” or assassination of “key security officials”.
Both the militants were young and the resistance they had put against the law-enforcement agencies indicated that they were highly trained, the officials believed.
Hourslong shootout also claims the life of an intelligence officer
They said the intelligence-based operation began after 2am when heavy contingents of police and Pakistan Rangers, Sindh, cordoned off the locality in Gulshan-i-Iqbal’s block 13-E housing apartments along Sir Shah Mohammad Sulaiman Road.
A senior security official while wishing not to be named said: “Days of intelligence exercise led to the reports about presence of some high-value targets in one of the apartment buildings and finally it emerged that it was Fahad Garden’s flat E-15 on third floor that housed the militants.”
As the Rangers soldiers backed by policemen and intelligence officials moved in after hours-long siege of the area, they came under deadly attack that left a civilian assistant director of the premier intelligence agency, Mohammad Sajjad, dead. “The attack from the militants also left a Rangers soldier wounded and triggered firing from both sides,” said another official, adding that the guns fell silent only after the militants were killed.
Three major crimes took place in an area of less than 15 square kilometres. Karachi has a total urban area of 1,100 square kilometres.
“They were young and the resistance they put against the law-enforcement agencies suggested that they were highly-trained,” the official said.
They were identified as Abdul Ahad, who headed Al-Qaeda network in Karachi and originally hailed from Swat, and Mohammad Saleh, said to be an Iranian Baloch. The investigators were still ascertaining details about residential address of Saleh who had come to the flat, which had been rented out to Abdul Ahad just a couple of months ago, the official said.
“After the encounter, the flat was searched in detail. Laptops, a few CDs, literature, cell phones and pistols were seized during the search. There was not much furniture in there, indicating that the place was used for temporary stay.”
The area people shared with police “some strange observations” about the flat occupants. “Before they came to live here, all the windows and ventilation points of the flat were closed with solid concrete construction through bricks and cement,” said a police official while quoting one of the witnesses. “When they moved into the apartment, some union people of the flat approached them and called such construction against the defined union rules. They pleaded that they had an aged patient to take care of and a doctor has recommended a dust-free environment for him that was the reason behind this construction.”
The residents counted only a young couple as the flat occupants who were frequently visited by different people and families.
Sources said the security officials also took into custody the only woman in the flat while killing the two militants in the encounter. However, the security officials denied any arrest during the operation.
“We have detained some five people who facilitated them acquiring this flat,” said SP Abid Qaimkhani of Gulshan-i-Iqbal Town. “We have also taken into custody the owner of the flat for investigation. Further investigations are under way that may further determine the potential targets of these militants.”