Two women among four killed in Sahiwal CTD operation; PM orders JIT

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SAHIWAL: The Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) on Saturday claimed that a local commander of militant organisation, Daesh, and three others, including two women, were killed in an operation near the GT Road.

“Four people, including two women and Daesh local commander Zeeshan, have been killed and one child has been injured in the cross-fire,” a CTD spokesperson said. The suspects were kidnappers and three children were recovered from them, police said.

“Three terrorists managed to escape and have been identified as Shahid Jabbar, Abdul Rehman and their accomplice,” the spokesperson added.

According to the spokesperson, “A CTD team tried to intercept a car and motorcycle near the toll plaza, however, the people in the car starting firing at them.”

The CTD maintained that the deceased were high-level targets who were also involved in the kidnapping of former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s son.

“The operation was conducted as part of the one in Faisalabad which took place on January 16,” the spokesperson further said.

Family, eyewitnesses dispute CTD claim

Muhammad Umair Khalil the injured child who was in the vehicle at the time of the incident spoke to media. Umair revealed that he was travelling to Burewala for his uncle’s wedding with his father (Khaleel), mother (Nabeela), elder sister (Areeba), father’s friend (Zeeshan) and two younger sisters when the vehicle was stopped.

“When we were stopped my father begged to take the money and forgive us, but they opened fire.”

The child said his father, mother, elder sister and father’s friend were killed in the firing and kept back in the vehicle.  “The police left us [Umair, younger sisters] at a petrol pump and we were later taken to a hospital,” he added.

Jaleel the brother of Khaleel told reporters the family was travelling for the wedding in a three-car convoy. “1122 informed us that the children were at the Civil Hospital, but they were unaware of where the dead bodies were.”

Eyewitnesses conflicted CTD’s statements and said the people in the car did not fire at officials. “There were no weapons found with the bodies,” they said.

The eyewitnesses further said that the children while speaking to them at a nearby petrol station claimed that the “police has killed their parents”.

“Following the firing incident, the police left the children at the petrol station where they spoke to us,” they added.

A few minutes later, however, CTD officials returned and took the children with them to an undisclosed location,” the eyewitnesses added.

“The car was coming from Lahore and the women killed were 40 and 13 years respectively,” they further said.

Following the incident, Punjab Police spokesperson Nabila Ghazanfar said, “If those killed were innocent citizens, then action will be taken against those who fired at them.”

“IG Punjab has sought a report from the regional police officer regarding the incident,” the spokesperson added.

‘Deceased were pious people’

The neighbours, in their statement to the press, maintained that they know the deceased since the last three decades, and expressed their doubts over their alleged involvement with Daesh.

The neighbours say that late Zeeshan’s brother, Ihtesham, is personnel in Punjab’s Dolphin force.

PM takes notice, JIT formed

Prime Minister Imran Khan took immediate notice of the case and demanded immediate inquiry report, meanwhile, the Punjab police spokesperson has announced that a Joint Investigative Team under DIG Zulfiqar Hameed has been formed to investigate the alleged shootout.

The JIT would include the members of ISI, MI and IB, and will present its report in three-day time.

The premier demanded an inquiry report on the shootout from the chief minister and directed him to ensure transparent investigations so that the case gets clarity, said a statement issued by the prime minister office.

Family, neighbours protest at Ferozpur road

The relatives and neighbours of the deceased blocked Ferozpur road to record their protest over the alleged extrajudicial killing of the family.

The protestors threatened to not call off the protest until immediate action is not taken against the officials responsible for the alleged shoot out.

CM Buzdar refrains from issuing comments

Despite repeated questions asked from the journalists over the incident, chief minister Usman Buzdar refrained from issuing comments over the incident.

On the other hand, Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry stated that in light of the initial CTD report the ‘terrorists appeared to have used the family as human shield’.