Islamabad, Sept. 27 (NNN): A top militant of Al-Qaeda terror network has been shot dead by Pakistani security forces in the southern province of Sindh.
Officials said he was killed in a four-hour gun battle at a house in Nawabshah, 200 kilometres from Karachi.
"I can confirm that Amjad Farooqi has been killed," said Information Minister Sheikh Rashid. He said three important terror suspects had also been arrested.
At least three men were killed in the shoot-out, officials said. Pakistan has recently increased its campaign against Islamic militants.
Seven others, including two women and three children, were arrested by the personnel of the law-enforcement agencies.
Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao said the three Pakistani men arrested in the operation were "possibly involved in terrorist activities inside the country". "We can't confirm their identities yet," he said.
Farooqi was killed by the Rangers in a raid on a house belonging to Dr Hanif Rajpar in Ghulam Hyder Shah Colony, where he was residing, apparently after his failed talks with the officials. Heavy contingents of the Rangers cordoned off the house, on a tip-off.
The security personnel asked the inmates to come out. However, after two hours, a man, covered with a Chadar, came out of the house and held talks with the officials.
Before the talks, the man was asked to remove his Chadar but he refused. The talks continued for 30 minutes, after which the man tried to return to the house, however, the security personnel opened fire on him, killing him on the spot. Later, the personnel of the law-enforcement agencies arrested seven people from the house.
Local police official Ismail Jamali said the two men were arrested, when they tried to flee. They were taken away in blindfolds by intelligence officials. One of the men was injured in the gunbattle, he said.
An intelligence official in Karachi identified the arrested men as Abdul Rehman and Yaqoob Farooqi. It was not clear what relation, if any, they had to Amjad Hussain Farooqi. A paramilitary official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said another suspect was killed in the siege, which lasted four hours. He said the man had shouted in Urdu that he’d prefer death to capture.
The suspect, possibly Amjad Hussain Farooqi, reportedly pointed to the sky and shouted: "I fulfilled my promise to Allah." One woman and two children were also taken into custody from the house. Firefighters were called to put out a blaze in one room that broke out during the gunbattle. After a search, officials left the house carrying three boxes. It was not immediately clear what they contained.
Amjad Farooqi, also known as Amjad Hussain had a $330,000 price on his head. Security officials described him as an "extremely intelligent and elusive terrorist operative," who had set up militant cells which worked independently from each other.
He is said to be a close associate of Abu Faraj al-Libbi, described as the operational chief of al-Qaeda in the region, who is also wanted in connection with the assassination attempts on President Pervez Musharraf.
The gunmen put up a "very strong" fight, firing at security officials with automatic weapons, an official said, while another said one of the gunmen killed said he would prefer death to arrest and had pointed to the sky, shouting: "I fulfilled my promise to Allah".
Two attempts were made to assassinate President Musharraf last December. In one, a bridge was blown up as he travelled to his official army residence in Rawalpindi. In the other, suicide bombers driving cars packed with explosives tried to ram his motorcade.
Amjad Farooqi once maintained close contacts with Khalid Sheikh Mohammad - al-Qaeda's alleged number three figure, who was arrested near Islamabad last year. He was also indicted for involvement in the kidnapping in 2002 and subsequent beheading of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.