LAHORE - Police killed four terrorists in an ‘encounter’ staged at a deserted place near Bund Road late Wednesday night.
The shooting took place just hours before Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif was to chair the Apex Committee meeting in Lahore, also attended by military commanders.
One of the dead was identified by investigators as Haroon Bhatti, said to be the founding member of the banned terror outfit Lashkar-i-Jhangvi.
Bhatti along with his three accomplices was brought back Lahore from Dubai last month with the help of Interpol. Three other suspects who were killed in the police operation were identified as Omar Nadeem, Omair Hassan, and Nauman Yasin.
A senior police officer yesterday told The Nation that a team CIA police killed the terrorists as part of its “aggressive policing campaign” launched early this year to purge the society from militants.
“We should not discuss whether it was a genuine encounter or the police carried out extra-judicial killings. We must say the dead were terrorists and criminals and they were brought to justice,” the officer commented on the condition of anonymity.
Police said three constables also wounded during the operation but did not explain the nature of injuries. The bullet-riddled bodies of militants were moved to the morgue.
A police spokesperson narrated typical story of the ‘armed encounter’ stating that the militants opened firing on the police party as cops raided a hideout in Malik Park in the Badami Bagh police precincts on a tip-off.
The spokesperson said the LeJ leader was taken to the hideout by CIA police since the operation was carried out on the information collected from Haroon Bhatti, who was in police custody on physical remand. Bhatti was killed by firing of his accomplices who were also killed during the armed encounter. “Bhatti was involved in more than 20 cases of target killing and kidnappings,” said the spokesperson.
A police officer said that the killings would prove a big blow to the militants who were struggling to survive. He described the action as a big achievement of the Lahore police.
According to police, they also recovered 10 hand-grenades, two SMG rifles, explosive material, and other ammunition from the hideout.
Reportedly, the provincial government had announced a bounty of Rs 2.5 million on Haroon’s capture, live or dead. He was accused of being involved in over two dozen acts of sectarian killing and terrorist attacks.
Police are ruthlessly killing gangsters and militants in fake encounters in the Punjab province since the Federal government introduced the much-debated National Action Plan.
Official sources state that they believe the police encounters are part of the strategy to purge the society from militancy and extremism. But some officers said that the policy of fake encounters is not the permanent solution of the problem since “such actions create a vacuum that someone other fills”.
More than 350 suspects are killed in police encounters in the Punjab province from January to September this year. The police last year had killed 216 suspects during the same period.
Staff Reporter from Khyber Agency adds: The body of a missing personal of Khasadar Force was recovered from tehsil Jamrud’s Mandanak area in Khyber Agency, administration sources said yesterday.
The Khasadar Force sources said that body of Hisab Khan was dumped in a deserted area after he was shot dead somewhere else by assailants. The local witnessed the body and informed the administration officials who shifted the body to Jamrud Hospital for medico-legal formalities.
According to deceased family, Hisab Khan went missing five days ago and reports had been lodged with the administration. The Jamrud administration has got registered an FIR against the unknown killers and initiated investigation to arrest the killers, sources said.