QUETTA  -  Security forces on Friday killed the mastermind of the country's worst ever suicide bombing in an early morning shootout in Balochistan, officials said.

The operation was carried out on an intelligence tip off about the presence of an Islamic State (IS) operative identified as Hidayat Ullah in a house in Darenjo village of Qalat district in the restive province.

"The Frontier Corps (FC) raided the house and killed Hidayat Ullah after a strong resistance from him," Qaisar Khan, a senior administration official in Qalat, told AFP.

A senior FC official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP Hidayat Ullah was facilitator of Hafeez Nawaz, who carried out the suicide bombing last week which killed at least 149 people.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack at an election rally in Balochistan's Mastung district.

Those killed in the Mastung blast included an election candidate, creating a major threat for those contesting the general election to be held on July 25.

Provincial authorities identified the bomber as Nawaz, a Pakistani national who stayed in Afghanistan and "waged jihad" against international troops before carrying out the suicide attack in Mastung.

A senior administration official in Mastung district Qaim Lashari also confirmed the Qalat raid. "Hidayat Ullah led a group of IS operatives, who are present in different areas of Balochistan, and we hope to track them down pretty soon," the official added.

News of Hidayat Ullah's death coincided with a small explosion in Chaman district bordering Afghanistan which wounded four people.

The bomb planted on a motorbike apparently targeted an FC vehicle and went off seconds after it passed by.

The blast occurred on Chaman City’s Mall Road. According to police, the injured were immediately shifted to Civil Hospital where medics said two of them were in critical condition.

A huge fire erupted in nearby shops following the bomb blast. Rescue teams and a strong contingent of security forces reached the blast site and started rescue operation to shift the injured to the nearby hospital.

On Thursday, Counter Terrorism Department DIG Aitzaz Goraya said that the suicide bomber behind Mastung attack has been identified. The suicide bomber was part of Daesh and had been affiliated with the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi as well, he added.

Goraya said that the suicide bomber was facilitated by a local resident who had been living in Mastung. Goraya said the suicide bomber’s brothers and sisters went to Afghanistan two years back, adding that the bomber was identified through his fingerprints.

Oil and gas-rich Balochistan is regularly hit by homegrown militancy and sectarian violence.

Violence in the country has however dropped significantly since the deadliest-ever militant attack, an assault on a school in Peshawar in 2014 that killed more than 150 people, most of them children.

Pakistan's military intensified operations against militants in the tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan in the wake of that attack, leading to dramatic security improvements.

But analysts have long warned that Pakistan is not tackling the root causes of extremism, and that militants retain the ability to carry out spectacular attacks like the Mastung blast.

 

 

Mastermind of Mastung poll rally bombing shot dead

 

 

Our staff reporter/Agencies