Islamic State has taken credit for executing a kidnapped officer of Pakistan’s prime intelligence agency a day after police found his body in the central city of Multan.
Local police identified the slain man, Umar Mubin Jilani, and quoted witnesses as saying militants dropped his body on a busy road early Saturday morning before driving away.
They said the body was dressed in an orange uniform like detainees at the U.S.-run Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba.
Jilani, 33, was kidnapped in June, 2014, by a group of gunmen while he was on his way to work in Multan where he was serving in a counterterrorism unit of Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, the country's main spy agency.
On Sunday, an Islamic State global media wing on its website claimed responsibility for executing the intelligence officer.
A message inscribed on Jilani’s shirt said “Daesh Pakistan” killed “ISI spy” and mentioned the date when he was kidnapped, according to police officials. Daesh is the Arabic acronym for Islamic State.
An official at the spy agency confirmed to VOA that Jilani was an ISI operative. Requesting anonymity, the official said that a major manhunt is underway in Multan to locate perpetrators of the crime but would not discuss further details.
The Middle East-based Islamic State terrorist group lately has stepped up attacks in Pakistan.
The deadliest strike took place last month when an IS suicide bomber blew himself up in a crowded Sufi shrine in southern Sindh province, killing more than 90 devotees and wounding over 300 more. The victims mostly belonged to the minority Shi'ite Muslim community.
Multan and adjoining southern districts of Pakistan's most populous Punjab province have traditionally hosted radical Islamic groups, some of which are blamed for extremist and sectarian violence in the country.
The southern region is considered the heartland of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi or LeJ, an outlawed Sunni militant group blamed for deadly attacks against Shiite Muslims.
Some Pakistani officials suspect LeJ members have lately joined hands with IS’s regional franchise “Khorasan Province” to promote the Middle East-based terrorist group’s extremist ideology in Pakistan-Afghanistan region.
The government, however, insists IS has no “organized presence” in Pakistan and security forces are determined not to allow the terrorist group to establish a foothold in the country.
Officials say that IS is plotting attacks in Pakistan from its save havens in border regions of neighboring Afghanistan.
Pakistan's military has recently launched a new nation-wide counterterrorism operation, which is also tasked to target suspected militant hideouts in Punjab.