ISLAMABAD - Unidentified gunmen late Sunday night shot dead Nasiruddin Haqqani, the chief fundraiser of Haqqani Network, near the federal capital, sources said.

Police sources said two motorbike riders chased Nasiruddin’s car and intercepted it in Bahara Kaho area, on the northeastern edge of the city. The attackers sprayed bullets at the vehicle, resulting in his on the spot death.

Haqqani group is one of the most feared militant factions of Taliban fighting US-led forces in Afghanistan. Nasiruddin was a son of network founder Jalaluddin Haqqani and elder brother of Sirajuddin Haqqani – the current head of the 2,000-strong group.

His murder in capital Islamabad is sure to embarrass the Pakistani authorities which have long been rejecting US claims that the Haqqani Network was operating from North Waziristan. Also, the high profile killing comes just a day after a show of strength on the city streets by Islamabad Police, which claimed it was fully capable of keeping the militants off the capital limits.

Insiders told The Nation that Nasiruddin received seven bullets in head, neck and lungs that resulted in his on the spot death. But, he was not taken to hospital for autopsy because his companions took the body to some unknown location before arrival of the police.

“I can confirm that Nasiruddin Haqqani, 36, was shot dead in Islamabad on Sunday night. At least four gunmen opened fire on him,” a senior Afghan Taliban source from the Haqqani network told a foreign news agency. Nasiruddin’s body has been taken to Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan, for burial, the source said.

Police high-ups suspended Bahara Kaho Police Station House Officer (SHO) for negligence of duty. But interestingly, no FIR of the incident was registered in the police station. “Yes, it is true that Nasiruddin Haqqani was shot dead in Islamabad. I have no further details about the incident,” said a police spokesperson, adding that police teams were investigating the case.

The Haqqani Network (HN) attracted global attention soon after claiming responsibility of attacks including the January 2008 Serena hotel bombing and the September 2011 attacks on the US Embassy and Nato bases in Kabul.

Born in Nika district of Afghanistan in 1972, Nasiruddin played an important role in establishing and strengthening ‘Haqqani Network’ along with his father. His death is essentially a great shock for Afghan Taliban. It comes on the heels of the killing of Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud in a drone strike last Friday.

While Jalaluddin Haqani is the chief of this deep rooted militant’s network, Nasiruddin Haqqani used to be the operational head of this network and now he was functioning as ‘chief financial officer’ of the dreaded group. Sources said, it was him who was the mastermind of attacks on US Embassy in Kabul.

Along with other members of his family and network, Nasiruddin was a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under Executive Order 13224 and listed under the United Nations 1267 resolution (United Nations, May 18, 2012).

A chat with a western diplomat revealed that news of his murder was received as great news that also established US and Nato claims that the network was operating from inside Pakistan.

Agencies add: A spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban confirmed the death and vowed to take revenge, accusing Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency of killing him.

“Nasiruddin Haqqani has been martyred by ISI,” Shahidullah Shahid, the main spokesman for the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), told AFP. “He was killed because he bravely supported Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud.”

Afghanistan’s NDS spy agency also confirmed Haqqani’s death but blamed it on an “internal conflict”. It did not give further details.

The Haqqanis have been a source of friction in US-Pakistan relations. The outgoing top US military officer, Admiral Mike Mullen, in 2011 called the group a “veritable arm” of the ISI.

A 2012 study by the Combating Terrorism Center at US military academy West Point described Nasiruddin as the Haqqanis’ “chief financial officer”.

It described a formidable business network supporting the Haqqanis’ military operations, with funds flowing from real estate and Gulf donations as well as illicit sources such as extortion, kidnapping and smuggling.

Nasiruddin was believed to direct smuggling operations and receive large payments from companies seeking to work in Haqqani-controlled lands, the study said.

The network was founded by Nasirudddin’s father Jalaluddin Haqqani - a disciplined Afghan guerrilla leader bankrolled by the United States to fight Soviet troops in Afghanistan in the 1980s. He is now based with his family in Pakistan. He allied himself to the Taliban after they took power in Kabul in 1996, serving as a cabinet minister under the militia’s supreme leader, Mullah Omar.