Quetta - Security forces killed the leader of an anti-Shia militant group during a targeted operation early on Tuesday on the outskirts of Quetta, security officials said.

Jaish-ul-Islam, a relatively new movement that considers Shias as apostates, has claimed many of the recent attacks on Hazaras.

It is similar to the larger Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which has carried out large attacks against Shias, who the movement says should leave the country.

The Frontier Corps and intelligence agents acted on a tip to conduct the Quetta raid, according to FC spokesman Khan Wasey.

Jaish-ul-Islam’s chief, Mehmood-ur-Rehman Rind, was killed along with two other militants, he said.

“Rind was involved in targeted killings and planning suicide attacks on the Hazara community and many other attacks,” Wasey told Reuters.

Heavy weapons including rockets and grenades were used in the battle, which lasted for several hours. One Frontier Corps officer was wounded in the exchange of fire.

The FC spokesman informed that an Uzbek national was among the dead militants.

Tuesday’s raid came as authorities arrested 39 suspected militants in a separate operation.

“One of the dead militants has been identified as Mehmood Rind who was chief of Jaish-ul-Islam militant group in Balochistan,” Balochistan Home Secretary Akbar Hussain Durrani also confirmed.

These terrorists were planning to target Youm-e-Ali-related processions and gatherings in Balochistan.

Rind was wanted in several cases of targeted killings and terrorism carried out throughout the province.

Earlier on Monday morning, at least three people belonging to Hazara community were killed in a firing incident on Quetta’s Joint Road.

A night market bombing in the city on Sunday killed one and wounded eight, and was claimed by both Jaish-ul-Islam and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. The blast was followed Monday by the gunning down of two Hazara brothers at a passport office and a policeman who was at the scene.

Police and paramilitary forces have rounded up 39 suspects in connection with Monday’s shooting, the FC spokesman said.

Sectarian strife has been worsening in Pakistan, where Shias make up about 20 percent of a population of 180 million.

More than 100 Shias have been killed in attacks in Pakistan this year, including 45 gunned down on a bus in Karachi and 62 in a suicide bombing in January.