In press conference, military spokesman claims Rangers’ led security operation has significantly improved law and order in provincial capital.
Al Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi are the major sources of terror attacks in Karachi, but are being brought to heel by the paramilitary Rangers-led security operation in the city, said Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Lt Gen Asim Bajwa on Friday.
Addressing a press conference in Karachi, the spokesman said the two militant groups had been aided by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan in staging attacks on senior police officials, Rangers convoys and various high security installations in the city. However, he said, the Rangers’ operation had significantly improved the city’s security situation, adding that target killings and attempts to extort civilians were down 70 percent from 2013, when crime in the city was at its peak.
“[Before the Rangers operation] people were looted on the roads, extortion and target killings were routine,” he said. “[Since the operation’s launch] Rangers have conducted over 7,000 raids, arresting over 12,000 suspected terrorists,” he said, adding that 6,000 of these people had been turned over to police.
The Army spokesman also told media that a planned terror attack and attempted prison break at the Hyderabad Central Jail had been foiled despite the extremists being “90 percent” prepared for the assault. “Our forces raided and recovered two vehicles loaded with explosives from Hyderabad that were meant to be used in an attempted jail break to release Ahmed Omar Sheikh, key accused in the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl,” said Bajwa.
“Six suicide bombers, including foreigners, were arrested in the raid and are currently under investigation,” said the spokesman, adding that a large cache of weapons and bomb-making equipment had also been recovered. “The entire gang of 97 people is under arrest, including Lashkar-e-Jhangvi deputy chief Naeem Bukhari and Mussannah, an affiliate of Al Qaeda,” he added. A prison official who was providing information to the militants has also been taken into custody, he said.
Updating media on progress in the military’s ongoing Zarb-e-Azb operation, Bajwa said the “backbone of the terrorists” had been broken and they were on the run. “This is why they are hiding in Afghanistan and surrounding areas,” he said, adding that prior to the operation most terror attacks were planned in North Waziristan’s Miranshah district.
The military spokesman admitted the government had been concerned about possible retaliation from extremists when it launched Zarb-e-Azb, but the Army had significantly curtailed their ability to stage attacks. “We have destroyed the hidden headquarters of the terrorists, which is visible in Pakistan from the declining number of terrorist attacks,” he added. “The entire world has praised Pakistan’s military for Operation Zarb-e-Azb,” he said.