Pakistan police: 5 suspected of abducting politician killed

QUETTA, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistani counterterrorism police said Sunday they killed five people involved in the abduction for ransom and subsequent death of a nationalist political party leader.

The raid took place overnight in the southwestern city of Pishin, according to the Baluchistan province Counter Terrorism Department.

Malik Ubaidullah Kasi, leader of the secular Awami National Party, was abducted for ransom from his native Kuchlak area near the provincial capital, Quetta, in late June. His body was found Thursday near an Afghan refugee camp in Pishin district.

A statement issued by the CTD said investigators arrested a man after Kasi’s body was found. The suspect subsequently led investigators to the hideout in Pishin.

Officers killed five men allegedly involved in Kasi’s abduction late Saturday night in a gun battle. Machine guns, hand grenades and hand guns were recovered from the abductors’ hideout, police said.

Kidnappings for ransom have been reported frequently in Baluchistan. Criminal gangs have abducted physicians businessmen and others in recent years for sometimes huge ransoms. Kasi, a prominent political leader, was the first political figure abducted for ransom in the province

Also on Sunday, counterterrorism police in eastern Punjab province said they killed three militants in a gun battle during a raid on their hideout near the eastern city of Lahore.

The raid took place after police received information that the alleged militants belonged to the banned group Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, according to a brief statement issued by Punjab province’s Counter Terrorism Department. The banned group is also known as the Pakistani Taliban.

The three men were hiding in a rented house in the city of Ferozwala, a Lahore suburb, police said.

Lahore is the capital of eastern Punjab province, which has seen several militant attacks in recent years, including one in June near the home of a militant leader that left three people including a police officer dead.

The CTD statement said the militants killed Sunday were planning attacks on security forces and Shiite mourning processions.

It said there was an exchange of gunfire during the raid in which three militants were killed and officers seized weapons from the hideout including an explosives-filled vest, two assault rifles, three hand grenades and two pistols. The militants were identified as Afghan nationals.

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