Pakistani police killed the leader of the sectarian militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Malik Ishaq, his two sons and 11 others on Wednesday during a shootout after gunmen attacked a police convoy and freed him as he was being moved, police said.
Ishaq was on a U.S. list of global terrorists and the group he founded has claimed responsibility for the deaths of hundreds of civilians, mostly minority Shi’ite Muslims.
He has faced several murder trials but always been acquitted after witnesses refused to testify. He was arrested again on Saturday, under a Maintenance of Public Order act, along with his two sons.
On Tuesday, police took Ishaq and the sons to an area near the Punjab province town of Muzaffargarh where they had seized an arms cache to identify men they had detained on suspicion of being members of Ishaq’s group.
As the police convoy returned in the early hours of Wednesday, a group of men on motorcycles ambushed them, freeing Ishaq and his two sons, police said.
“Twelve to 15 terrorists attacked the police party … freed the accused and fled away on motorcycles,” a police spokeswoman, Nabila Ghazanfar, quoted a policemen in the area as saying in a message.
Police further along the road attacked the gunmen as they were fleeing, killing Ishaq, his two sons, and 11 others, Ghazanfar cited the policemen as saying in his message.
Six police were wounded, he said.
“The accused, in custody, were under investigation for murder of dozens of people in target killings in South Punjab,” the policeman said.
“The gang was also in league with the (Taliban) and al Qaeda groups operating in the area.”