Officials in Balochistan claim Usman Saifullah Kurd opened fire on security forces when they tried to apprehend him.
Officials in Balochistan province said Monday they had killed the mastermind behind a suicide bombing at a mosque, which killed 61 Shia Muslims last month.
The Jan. 30 blast hit the mosque in the Shikarpur district of Sindh province as hundreds of worshippers attended Friday prayers.
“We have been chasing Usman Saifullah Kurd since a long time. We finally got him yesterday and he was killed in the exchange of fire,” said Akbar Hussain Durrani, home secretary of Balochistan province where Kurd was killed. “Kurd was a key commander of the Sunni hardliner group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) and was involved in the Shikarpur attack and many other major attacks in Sindh and Balochistan provinces, particularly against the Shia and Hazara communities,” he added.
Durrani said security forces received a tip that Kurd was having lunch at a restaurant in Quetta, where the LeJ group is particularly active. “Kurd and his accomplices fired at the forces when they entered the restaurant, and in retaliation was killed along with another accomplice,” he said. “Two soldiers were also injured in the operation while another militant was arrested alive.”
A senior security official in Quetta said Kurd was the main instigator behind the Shikarpur assault, and confirmed the details of the raid.
Hundreds of Shias from the Hazara ethnic group have been killed in numerous attacks claimed by the LeJ in Balochistan. The province is also rife with separatist militancy.
The sectarian violence has however now spread to the rest of the country as well. On Feb. 13 a total of 22 Shia Muslims were killed in Peshawar when three suicide bombers attacked their mosque during main Friday prayers.