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TTP splinter group, Al Qaeda elements behind Awais Shah kidnapping: DG ISPR

KARACHI: Director General ISPR Asim Bajwa said Awais Shah was recovered from his kidnappers who had made him wear a burqa in order to transport him in Dera Ismail Khan.

Elaborating on Shah’s recovery in a press conference, Bajwa said an ambush was foiled in Dera Ismail Khan at a checkpoint at Mufti Mehmood Chowk on the way to Tank.

  • Bajwa gives details of raid that recovered kidnapped lawyer
  • Kidnappers had put him in a veil to conceal his identity
  • Lawyer recovered with hands and feet tied, tape across the mouth
  • Bajwa says TTP splinter group and Al Qaeda elements involved in kidnapping

Bajwa said a figure in a burqa was found in the backseat of the vehicle after a gunman from the security forces shot the driver and two armed militants in order to stop a suspicious blue Toyota Surf that refused to halt at the checkpoint. The burqa-clad figure was identified as Awais Shah, blindfolded, with his hands and feet chained and tape across his mouth.

“He was in a burqa. When we lifted it, he was under it and he had tape on his mouth. It was removed and he said ‘My name is Awais Shah and I’m the son of the Sindh High Court Chief Justice’. Security forces then took Shah to a nearby camp where we cut his chains.”

‘TTP splinter group, some Al Qaeda elements’

“This was a TTP splinter group with some Al Qaeda elements,” said Bajwa, explaining the affiliation of Shah’s kidnappers.

“Intelligence agencies were working at a ‘surge rate’. There was a whole chain of people who were awake to make this operation a success last night and there is always some operation of this scale going on.”

Bajwa also allayed suspicions, saying there is no information that any political party was involved in the kidnapping.

The ISPR chief said all three terrorists were killed.

“The operation was only completed this morning and Awais hasn’t been debriefed yet,” said Bajwa, explaining why Shah hasn’t spoken to the media since returning home just a few hours ago. For operational reasons, the kidnappers’ demands and the location they contacted Shah’s family from could not be shared, said Bajwa.

“It’s possible that it can help us in our work ahead,” he said.

‘They wanted to spread terror’

“Whatever high profile kidnappings they did, they had a purpose. They wanted to spread terror,” said Bajwa, referring to the series of high profile kidnappings of Ali Haider Gilani, Shahbaz Taseer and Awais Shah.

“I want to salute the affected families. They have faced this challenge with perseverance, and ultimately all three cases were recovered.”

DG ISPR said weapons and ammunitions were recovered from the militants, including three AK-47 Kalashnikovs and 500 rounds, six grenades and some drum magazines

Bajwa also revealed security is heightened in DI Khan as there has been a “surge” in extremist activity in the area, especially along the DI Khan-Tank road.

“A crackdown is ongoing and intelligence agencies are on it. A terrorist was involved in sectarian activities and there was a gang there. DI Khan has been an origin of this before and it remains a high threat zone. We have a plan on this.”

“Our efforts are not slowing and counter-terrorism efforts and combing operations will keep going at a heightened level, as well as pressure on facilitators through intelligence-based operations.”

Advocate Awais Ali Shah, kidnapped son of Sindh High Court Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, was recovered after an intelligence based operation at Tank district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Director General ISPR Lt. General Asim Bajwa disclosed Shah’s recovery on Tuesday. Three terrorists were also killed during the operation.

According to the ISPR, Awais Ali Shah was safe and sound in the possession of security forces and will be transported back to his parents during the day.

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