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Major Al Qaeda Commander Killed in Balochistan

by AFP
Minister Sarfraz Bugti announces the killing of Al Qaeda leader Umar Lateef. Banaras Khan—AFP

Minister Sarfraz Bugti announces the killing of Al Qaeda leader Umar Lateef. Banaras Khan—AFP

Security forces claim they have also arrested Umar Lateef’s wife, who led the Al Qaeda women’s wing in Punjab, Balochistan.

Pakistani security forces have killed a senior Al Qaeda commander and detained his wife in an overnight raid on his hideout in Balochistan, a provincial minister said Sunday.

The security forces also took the couple’s two young daughters into custody during the raid in the Chaghi district.

“An important Al Qaeda commander, namely Umar Lateef, a Pakistani national, was killed in an encounter with local security agencies,” provincial home minister Sarfraz Bugti told reporters.

The minister said Umar Lateef, his wife Tayyaba alias Fareeha Baji, one brother and two daughters both aged under five had lived in Chaghi for the last 8-10 months after moving from the Afghan border province of Nimruz.

“Lateef was a senior commander of Al Qaeda for Balochistan and south Punjab regions,” Bugti said. “His brother Bilal succeeded in escaping during the raid, probably to neighboring Afghanistan.”

Bugti said Punjab province had offered a reward of Rs. 2 million for Lateef and half a million rupees for his wife, who was head of Al Qaeda’s women’s wing in south Punjab and Balochistan.

The minister said Lateef had established an Al Qaeda network and was supervising its “terrorist activities and providing travel and logistical facilities to terrorists in both Balochistan and south Punjab as well as in Afghanistan.”

His wife is being interrogated by security officials.

Al Qaeda announced last September it was setting up a chapter in the sub-continent to counter the spread of the rival Islamic State group, which controls a broad swathe of territory in Iraq and Syria. Pakistan launched a major military operation against Taliban and Al Qaeda-led militants in the northwestern tribal regions in June last year. The operation intensified in December after Taliban militants attacked a school in Peshawar and killed more than 150 people, mostly children.

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