Sr commander of banned LeJ killed in shootout in Pakistan

Quetta: A senior commander of the banned outfit Lashkar-e-Jhangvi was among the two militants killed in an encounter by the security forces in the troubled Baluchistan province here, police has said. LeJ Baluchistan head Usman Saifullah, the suspected mastermind of the recent Shikarpur Imambargah, was hiding in a hotel near Gahi Khan chowk when security forces in a raid killing him and one other militant, police said yesterday.

"Usman Saifullah who is a senior commander of the LeJ and its head in Baluchistan was killed today (Sunday) after a shootout with security forces," senior police official Bashir Brohi told reporters. Another security official said that the Frontier Corps assisted by some intelligence officials had raided a hotel near Gahi Khan chowk on the Saryab road in which two militants were killed and one other arrested.

"There were some militants hiding in the hotel and they fired on the security forces in which two of them, including Usman, were killed," he said, adding that five security personnel were injured in the shootout while one militant was arrested from the hotel. "A high value terrorist, Usman was also involved in the killing of members of the Hazara community who have been systematically targeted and killed in the province.

"He had also escaped from the Anti-Terrorist Force Jail in Quetta Cantonment in 2008," the official said. The Baluchistan Home Department had announced Rs two and a half million bounty on his head. Intelligence sources also said the commander had close contacts to both al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban.

A senior counter terrorism official in Karachi Umar Khatab said since Shikarpur in Sindh was located on the border with Baluchistan, they believed the bombing there was carried out by Usman's group. However, militant group Jundullah had claimed responsibility for the Friday bombing of an Imambargah in Shikarpur that killed nearly 60 people recently.

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