Pakistani police say wanted militant killed in shootout

MULTAN, Pakistan (AP) — Counterterrorism police killed one of Pakistan’s most wanted militants in a shootout in the garrison city of Rawalpindi overnight, a police official said Sunday.

Officer Kashif Hussain said three of the militant’s accomplices escaped during the exchange of fire, leaving their weapons at the scene: two pistols, an assault rifle and ammunition.

He identified the slain militant only as Niaz and said he also uses the alias Zeeshan. Hussain said Niaz was active with the Pakistani Taliban group Tahreek-e-Taliban in Punjab province in the Hazro area of the district of Attock.

He said Niaz was also in league with banned militant organization Lashker-e-Jhangvi.

Hussain said Niaz was wanted in connection with a number of attacks in the region that killed more than two dozen citizens and security officials. There was a $40,000 bounty on his head.

According to Hussain, Niaz was involved in planning a 2015 suicide attack that killed then-home minister of Punjab province Shuja Khanzada, a high ranking police officer and others.

Hussain said the counterterrorism department received intelligence that four militants on two motorcycles planned to attack secret service officers so checkpoints were set up on the road linking Attock with Rawalpindi.

Late on Saturday, the targets were spotted approaching the Kheri Murat checkpoint. Hussain said they were asked to stop but instead the motorcyclists opened fire in an attempt to escape.

The Pakistani Taliban have a presence in areas of Punjab province that border northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. They also have made inroads in southern Punjab near southwestern Baluchistan province.

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