Islamabad: Outlawed Lashkar-e-Jhangvi’s chief Asif Chotu, who was on Pakistan’s most wanted terrorist list and carried a bounty of Rs 3,000,000 on his head, was killed along with his three associates near here, police said on Wednesday.
“Four terrorists including the chief of banned LeJ were killed by the Counter-Terrorism Department in an encounter last night near Sheikhupura, about 40-km northwest of Lahore,” a CTD spokesperson was quoted as saying by the Geo TV.
The killing of Asif Chotu alias Rizwan alias Nasir came 18 months after police executed his predecessor and the then LeJ Ameer Malik Ishaq in an encounter in July 2015. According to the CTD, the LeJ had been preparing to launch an attack on staff and offices of a sensitive agency in Lahore and they were coming on four motorcycles from Farooqabad towards Sheikhupura for onward journey to the city.
On the tip off, the CTD team blockaded the Railway Phatak Sheikhupura on Tuesday night and ordered terrorists to surrender. The terrorists, however, assumed positions and started firing indiscriminately on the police party chasing them. The police responded and found four terrorists dead while three terrorists succeeded in fleeing from the scene.
Two of the other slain terrorists were identified as Dr. Shakirullah alias Ali Sufyan and Noor-ul-Amin, while one dead terrorist is yet to be identified. Two Kalashnikovs, two pistols, 3kg explosives, prima cord, live bullets, etc. were recovered from the terrorists.
Investigation has been launched for arrest of the fleeing terrorists, the spokesperson added. Asif had joined banned Sipah-e-Sahaba in the 1990s. He was later appointed commander of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi in Karachi and after the death of Ishaq, he was appointed LeJ Ameer.
He was directly involved in killing over 100 citizens of Pakistan in Punjab, Sindh, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. Indirectly, he was involved in killing of over 200 people. Asif along with four of his accomplices had killed two Iranian engineers, who were working on Clifton Bridge, in 1998. He also murdered Managing Director PSO Shoukat Raza in Clifton and shot dead the then chairman PIA and son of former army general Musa Khan.
He was in prison from 2005 to 2012. In 2012 he was released on bail after which he became a Proclaimed Offender and killed dozens more people. Shakir alias Ali Sufyan was LeJ Ameer of KP and had killed more than 50 people in the KP and Punjab.
LeJ was founded in 1996 as a militant offshoot of Sipah-i-Sahaba, a Sunni sectarian group that emerged in the mid-1980s. LeJ has claimed responsibility for the deaths of hundreds of civilians, mostly minority Shia Muslims.
LeJ was believed to be behind the terrorist attack on a police training centre in Quetta last October in which 61 people, mostly police cadets, and two armymen, were killed. In March 2009, a bus carrying the Sri Lankan cricket team was attacked by the Taliban and LeJ militants in Lahore. Seven Lankan players had sustained injuries while six policemen were killed in the attack.