A militant commander, arrested in a commando operation against terrorists holed up inside a building near the Pakistani army headquarters during a bloody 20-hour siege, has close links to banned groups like Jaish-e- Mohammed and Harkut-ul-Ansar, military officials said on Sunday.
Aqeel alias 'Dr Usman', described by military spokesman Maj Gen Athar Abbas as the leader of the terrorists involved the attack at the army's General Headquarters in Rawalpindi near here yesterday, was captured this morning when commandos stormed the building, where the attackers were holed up with dozens of hostages.
Four of Aqeel's accomplices were gunned down by the commandos, who freed 42 hostages. Aqeel was injured when he attempted to set off a large quantity of explosives, Abbas said.
Military officials were quoted by TV news channels as saying that Aqeel, who belongs to Kahuta near Rawalpindi, had close links with outlawed militant groups like Jaish-e-Mohammed and the Qari Saifullah Akhtar faction of the Harkat-ul-Ansar.
Aqeel, who once served in the Army Medical Stores, also had close links with the Punjab chapter of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and slain Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud, who was killed in a US drone attack in August.
Military officials said Aqeel was linked to the terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore earlier this year, attempts on the lives of former President Pervez Musharraf and former premier Shaukat Aziz and the assassination of Lt Gen Mushtaq Baig, the chief of the army's medical services, in February last year.
Aqeel had also been linked to several attacks on Shia prayer halls in Punjab.
The military officials said the five terrorists, who were holed up in an office of the Military Intelligence agency, appeared to have been prepared for holding out for up to five days as they were carrying a large amount of food and supplies. They also had a cache of suicide jackets, grenades, explosives and improvised explosive devices.
Four of the terrorists led by Aqeel died in a gun battle with soldiers manning check posts on the road to the General Headquarters yesterday. Another four were killed by commandos of the elite Special Service Group this morning during the operation to rescue hostages. PTI