'Bid to assassinate Balochistan governor foiled'

Forces arrest two suspects, seize suicide vests along with arms and ammunition in Qilla Abdullah

Mohammad Zafar December 20, 2017
A file photo of Balochistan Governor Muhammad Khan Achakzai. PHOTO: EXPRESS

QUETTA: Two men plotting a suicide attack on Balochistan Governor Muhammad Khan Achakzai have been arrested near the Afghan border, Home Minister Sarfaraz Bugti claimed on Wednesday.

Addressing a news conference along with Quetta Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Abdul Razaq Cheema, he said the men were arrested during a raid carried out by the police and other law enforcement agencies in the Gulistan area.

“Hamid Bashir from Punjab and local facilitator Munwar Ahmed were arrested. They were planning to carry out a suicide bomb attack on Governor Muhammad Khan Achakzai during his visit to his village,” he said.

A large cache of weapons and explosives, including two suicide vests and landmines, were found in a compound during the raid carried out after receiving a tip-off.

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“The Qari group, now based in Afghanistan, had plotted the attack to assassinate Governor Achakzai and the suicide bomber had arrived from across the border,” Bugti said. The group was also involved in the assassination of Punjab home minister Shuja Khanzada, he added.

The governor is the elder brother of Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party Chairman Mehmood Khan Achakzai and was appointed in 2013.

Bugti said the governor enjoyed a very high symbolic political status among the people of Balochistan and the security forces’ timely response had foiled another high-profile attack in the province.

Replying to a question, he said the provincial government was taking measures to protect high-profile government officials. “We are going to purchase bullet-proof vehicles for all high officials, including police officers, and the federal government will assist us through a tax waiver. Indeed there is a high-level threat but we are taking preventive measures.”

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Church attack

Bugti said the intelligence agencies and the police were investigating the recent attack on a church in Quetta and a forensics team from Punjab was assisting them.

He said the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) could not identify the fingerprints of the attackers. “This indicates that they were not Pakistanis,” he said.

DIG Cheema said a security plan had been finalised for all 39 churches in Quetta and a meeting had also been held with the elders of the Christian community about the arrangements for Christmas.

“The churches will provide us volunteers, and special security cards will be issued to all of them. Christians serving in the police are allowed to perform duty for churches’ security if they are willing to do so during Christmas celebrations.” he added.

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