Pakistani authorities say security forces have hunted down and killed a senior pro-Islamic State militant commander wanted for slaughtering more than 100 minority Shi’ite Muslims and police personnel.
The overnight raid, carried out on a tip in southwestern Pakistan’s Baluchistan province, also killed two Afghan suicide bombers and security forces captured what army statement on Thursday described as one “injured terrorist.”
The army’s statement added that an ensuing intense firefight left a military intelligence officer dead and four soldiers wounded, two of them in critical condition.
The Pakistani military identified the slain extremist commander as Salman Badeni, saying he headed the banned Sunni militant group, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), in the province.
LeJ is believed to have aligned itself with IS since the Middle East-based terrorist group launched its extremist activities in Afghanistan-Pakistan region three years ago.
In a brief statement, IS’s Amaq News Agency, the terrorist group’s global propaganda instrument, claimed the killing of a Pakistani army colonel and four police officers in Quetta, but gave no further details.
Military officials described the killing of Badeni and the uncovering of his group as a “major achievement,” saying they were “involved in targeted killings of innocent Hazara (Shi’ite) community and police.”
The military also released a picture of Badeni’s bullet-riddled body, photos of ammunition, and bomb-making material recovered during Wednesday's raid.
Authorities Thursday night said that in response to Badeni's killing, a group of five “terrorists” on board an explosives-laden vehicle attempted to attack a facilitation center of the paramilitary Frontier Corps force just outside Quetta.
The military’s media wing said security forces swiftly challenged and killed all of the assailants before they could enter the facility. The gunfight wounded four soldiers and that “all suicide bombers were apparently Afghans," the statement added.
There were no immediate claims of responsibility.
Repeated suicide bombings and targeted attacks in recent years have killed thousands of ethnic Hazaras mostly based in and around the city. The victim families and Hazara activists have frequently protested against a lack of security for their community.
Earlier this month, Pakistan’s army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa personally intervened and persuaded protesters to end their hunger strike against the recent spate of deadly attacks on Hazaras.
Statements carried by the IS's Amaq News Agency have claimed responsibly for a majority of these incidents.
The increasing footprint of IS in Baluchistan, coupled with an ongoing low-level Baluch separatist insurgency, is a major security concern for the multibillion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, known as CPEC. The largest Pakistani province hosts the deep-water port of Gwadar and a number of infrastructure projects being run and built under CPEC.
Separately, a suicide bomber riding a motorcycle hit a convoy of security personnel in the northwestern city of Nowshera Thursday, killing one soldier and wounding more than a dozen others. No one immediately claimed responsibility and it was not known whether the attack was linked to the events in Quetta.