ISLAMABAD - Security forces on Sunday killed a key terrorist of notorious Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), which has been launching deadly attacks on Shia pilgrims and targeting Hazara community in Quetta, a reliable source informed The Nation.

LeJ’s operational commander in Balochistan Usman Saifullah Kurd was killed in a joint operation of Frontier Constabulary and other Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) which stormed his hideout in Hazar Ganji area of Quetta on Sunday.

LeJ, a sectarian Sunni group, was formed in 1996 in Punjab and is still believed to have been operating from the province, carrying out relentless attacks on Shias in Balochistan, though it keeps a low profile in Punjab and does not commit mass murders here. It is believed to have strong ties with Al-Qaeda and Taliban and is considered to be the most violent sectarian terrorist group operating inside Pakistan.

The source told this scribe that following a lead about presence of wanted terrorists in the area, the security agencies cordoned off Hazar Ganji area, where some LeJ men were reportedly planning a terrorist attack on Hazara Shias of Quetta.

Instead of surrendering, the terrorists opened fire on the law enforcement personnel and posed a strong resistance. In the exchange of fire, two LeJ militants were killed, one of which was later identified as Usman Saifullah Kurd – who was already declared an absconder with a head money of Rs5 million.

Kurd alias Muhammad Gul, resident of Killi Zarin Mian Ghundi, was the operational commander of the LeJ in Balochistan. Usman Kurd and his second-in-command Dawood Badini (with Rs2 million head money) were sentenced to death by an anti-terrorist court of Quetta on November 8, 2003, for masterminding two terrorist attacks in Quetta that killed 65 people.

On June 12, 2003, Badini was nabbed by the Sindh Rangers from Karachi whereas the Criminal Investigation Unit of Karachi police caged Usman Saifullah Kurd from Mauripur area of Karachi on June 22, 2006. But both these LeJ comrades, along with Qari Shafiqur Rehman, managed to escape on January 18, 2008, in a jailbreak inside the high-security zone of Quetta Cantonment in mysterious circumstances.

Sindh Rangers former director general Maj-Gen Javed Zia during a press conference on June 14, 2004 announced that Usman Kurd, s/o Muhammad Noor, had confessed during interrogations to having trained a large group of target killers and suicide bombers to step up attacks on the Hazaras in Balochistan as well as planning dozens of suicide attacks on religious processions and imambargahs, besides having ordered the killing of professionals, police cadets and political activists, a majority of whom were Hazaras.

According to a private TV channel, security personnel said Usman Saifullah was believed to be the mastermind of the devastating Shikarpur imambargah attack which killed 61 people this month.

Five security personnel also sustained bullet wounds during the exchange of fire. The security official described the condition of two injured FC personnel as serious. He further said that one militant was also taken into custody by security forces during the targeted raid.

(The writer is a correspondent

for Waqt News)