KARACHI/ISLAMABAD  -  Mansoor Khan and Asim Qadeer Rana  -  Showing an exemplary performance, the security and law enforcement agencies foiled number of terror bids in various cities across the country – enabling the people to peacefully observe the holy day of Muharram 9 to recall the immortal sacrifices rendered by Hazrat Imam Hussain (RA) and his companions in Karbala.

Police in Karachi on Thursday killed six alleged operatives of a banned sectarian outfit who had planned to carry out a major terrorist attack on an Ashura procession today (Muharram 10). Police also seized explosives, suicide vests and weapons in the raid.

Anti-extremist Cell of the Crime Investigation Department (CID) claimed that the killed militants belonged to a banned anti-Shia outfit and they included group’s Karachi chapter chief and two would-be suicide bombers.

In Islamabad, police with help of intelligence agencies arrested an alleged suicide bomber and his Afghan handler. The alleged would be suicide bomber, Matiullah, 25, was reportedly planning to target one of the biggest Imambargah of the capital, in G-6 area.

Security forces raided a place in Tarnol and after an encounter, arrested Matiullah and his handler Muhammad Saeed Abdullah – who the police believed was working for Afghan intelligence agency. Police also seized suicide jackets and other equipment from the arrested men.

In Peshawar, police defused a 20 kilogram remote-controlled bomb in Achini Bala area on the city outskirts on Thursday. Police said the bomb was planted in the middle of the Ring Road. A blast occurred on the Ring Road on Wednesday, but that did not cause any damage.

In Kot Addu, a five kilogram bomb was recovered near the entrance of the main Taba Karbala Imambargah of the city on Thursday.

In Kurram Agency, security forces on Thursday recovered huge cache of arms and explosives, besides arresting two terrorists in a raid on a compound of a terror group leader Qari Naeem in Anudanad area. The terrorists had planned to carry out a major terror attack on a Muharram procession in the area. The recovered arms and ammunition included 55 IEDs, two RPGs, several kilograms of explosives, 15 landmines, 16 anti-tank mortars, 5 bombs and anti-aircraft guns.

In Chaman border town of Balochistan, the Frontier Corps (FC) on Thursday arrested two suspected persons and recovered huge cache of arms during a targeted operation in the area. According to FC spokesman, they raided a house and recovered 2,400 mines, 2 anti-tank mines, 516 IEDs, eight locally made bombs, electric devices, 24 timers, RDX sticks, switches, detonators, wire rolls, explosive bricks, a suicide jacket and many other devices.

Officials said the recovered explosive material was to be used for terrorist activities in the province, especially during the month of Muharram when processions are taken out by Shia community, which has suffered a number of major sectarian attacks in Balochistan capital Quetta.

Ashura processions have been targeted many a time in the past therefore elaborate security arrangements have been made for Muharramul across the country. The threat of attacks is unusually high this time because only few weeks before the Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud was killed in a US drone strike and the TTP has vowed revenge attacks. This umbrella terrorist organisation not only itself is anti-Shia in its disposition but also works in close coordination with sectarian outfits.

About the encounter in Karachi, DSP Aslam Khan told newsmen that the encounter took place when AEC police raided at militants’ hideout near Lucky Pahari at Maripur Road. After the police cordoned off, the militants started firing and refused to surrender resulting in exchange of fire in which six terrorists were killed and three CID personnel Yasir, Faizan and Ali Faisal were wounded.

Deceased persons were identified as LeJ’s Karachi chief Gul Hassan (of Asif Chohto group), two suspected suicide bombers, Muhammad Arif (aliases Salahuddin, Mairaj, Javed Chashma) and Naveed Baloch alias Chohta. The three other militants were identified as Syed Khalil Hussain Shah alias Shahji, Maqbool alias Baan and Naveed Ayub. Their bodies were taken to Civil Hospital and later shifted to a morgue in Sohrab Goth.

“The terrorists were planning to carry out an attack on Shia mourners,” Khan claimed. They were first carry out suicide bombings at the Hussainian Iranian Imambargah in Kharadar locality and then to attack another Ashura procession, he added. The police officer said they have recovered two suicide jackets, four Kalashnikovs, two 9mm pistols, remote control and detonators in the raid.

Online adds: Lahore police on Thursday foiled an attempt of terrorism on the eve of Ashura, arresting five terrorists along with sophisticated arms. Following a tip-off, police said the law-enforcers raided a house in Shahdara and arrested five terrorists who were planning to target Muharram processions in the City.

“There could have been a massive loss of life but our timely action saved the city from a major disaster,” AEC chief Aslam Khan claimed. Gul Hassan was the mastermind of various terror activities in Karachi, including the attack on the Justice Maqbool Baqar, bombings at the Hyderi Masjid and Ali Raza Imambargah as well as attacks on the buses of SUPARCO.

Gul Hassan, a resident of Lyari, was arrested in 2004 for his alleged involvement in Hyderi Mosque blast and other terrorist activities, but was released on bail in 2007. “The other terrorists were involved in more than 50 cases of sectarian target killings, including the killing of Shia lawyers and a journalist Syed Shah in Karachi,” Khan claimed.