Quetta- Security forces claimed to have killed two suspected militants of banned outfit, Lashkar-i-Jhangvi including a senior commander Usman alias Saifullah during search operation.

The Frontier Corps, accompanied by personnel of intelligence agencies, conducted a raid at a hotel near Gahi Khan Chowk area of Sariab road in Quetta.

“The militants hiding inside the hotel retaliated and an exchange of fire took place between the militants and security officials which left two militants dead, including LJ commander Usman Saifullah who was believed to be the mastermind of the devastating Shikarpur imambargah attack which killed 61 people this month.” The security official said “the dead commander was involved in targeted killings of Hazara community members.”

Five security personnel also sustained injuries during the exchange of fire. The injured were taken to Combined Military Hospital (CMH) where they were said to be in critical condition. The official further said that one militant was also taken into custody by security forces during the targeted raid.

Saifullah was a wanted terrorist who had escaped from the Anti-Terrorist Force Jail in Quetta Cantonment in 2008. He was implicated in multiple cases involving target killing, especially of Shia Hazaras. The Baluchistan Home Department had announced Rs2.5 million head bounty for his capture. Intelligence sources also said, the commander had close contacts to both al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban.

After the raid, security was beefed up in different parts of Quetta in anticipation of blowback from the killing of the LJ commander. The raid is part of larger security efforts being made in Quetta and other parts of Baluchistan, following the Army Public School attack in Peshawar on December 16, 2014.

Earlier, intelligence agencies and officials investigating the Shikarpur imambargah attack, had identified a militant group operating in the Sindh and Baluchistan border areas as those behind the deadly attack.