ISLAMABAD: After killing Zaheer Ahmed Awan, an alleged high-value terrorist, in a shoot out on Wednesday, police arrested four more suspects from different areas of the country on Thursday.
The arrests were made from Khyber Pakhtunkwa and southern Punjab on information provided by intelligence agencies and the previously arrested suspects. The identity of arrested individuals is being kept confidential by the police.
Rana Zafar Iqbal, who had been arrested after the shootout on Wednesday, was sent on a seven-day physical remand after he was produced before the court on Thursday. In the official FIR of the incident, registered in Margalla Police Station, the police have maintained that Awan was killed by a bullet fired by his own accomplices.
However, friends and colleagues of Iqbal said that he was not a terrorist and police were implicating him in false cases. “He was a friend of Awan, but then there were other people who were his friends too, not all of them are terrorists,” they claimed.
“He had gone to sector G-8 Markaz to see Awan as a friend, he was not aware of his alleged activities,” he added. However, Iqbal’s mother and brother were tight-lipped, raising suspicions about his conduct. Initially, his mother had spoken for his innocence. Abbassi, another friend, said the family had been threatened into silence.
“Zaheer’s character was suspicious. But Iqbal was innocent,” maintained Abbassi.
Police maintain that Iqbal was an accomplice of Awan and was involved in planning terrorist activities.
Officials told The Express Tribune that the deceased Awan had once served as a trainer in the Police Fitness Gym established at the office of Islamabad Traffic Police in sector F-8.
They further said that Awan was a member of Shabab-e-Milli and Jamaat-e-Islami and was a regular visitor to the gym in Karachi Company, G-9 Markaz when he was studying in Quaid-e-Azam University (QAU) 12 years ago.
“He had visited Jihadi camps in Afghanistan in the late 1990s for training. On his return he joined Shabab-e-Milli again,” said a police official.
“Some two years ago, he joined Maulana Masood Azhar’s Jaish-e-Mohammad, a banned outfit based in Jhang,” he added.
Earlier, he was found involved in all three target killing attempts on brigadiers of Pakistan Army in Islamabad. In those three attacks, Brigadier Moin Ahmed lost his life while the other two managed to escape narrowly. Police said more arrests were likely in the coming days as police teams were on the hunt.
Police accused Awan of a terrorist attack on Nato supply trucks near Islamabad in June this year. “He was also involved in the murdering the son of Mian Iftikhar Hussain, the Information Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in a suicide attack recently,” police said.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 6th, 2010.
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