LAHORE: Officials on Wednesday said they that a senior al Qaeda commander for Punjab was among the four militants killed in the early morning raid in Ferozewala earlier this week.
Police and counter-terrorism forces had raided a house in Ferozewala town, 18 kilometres (11 miles) north of Lahore early Monday, killing four alleged militants and capturing two others.
“One of the four militants killed on Monday during the raid of law enforcement agencies near Lahore was the head of al Qaeda networks in Pakistan and in Punjab province and his name was Abdali,” Punjab home minister Shuja Khanzada told reporters.
Officials said they were acting on a tip-off when they raided the militants’ hideout and had received intelligence that the group were planning an attack on the provincial headquarters of the Intelligence Bureau (IB).
Al Qaeda’s South Asian branch leader Maulana Asim Umar was the “mastermind of the plan,” Khanzada said.
The claim, however, could not be independently verified.
Two more militants were injured in the raid and arrested, the minister said, adding that they had all trained in Afghanistan at an al Qaeda camp for five months.
A huge cache of weapons was also seized, including two rocket launchers, four suicide vests and 41 hand grenades.
Punjab-based militant groups have deepened their ties with the Taliban, which is allied to al Qaeda, in recent years, though the province, which is the stronghold of the ruling party, has largely been spared the violence that has plagued much of the rest of the country.