The main handler of the suicide bomber who killed 63 worshippers in a blast targeting an Imambargah in Peshawar and two of his accomplices have been killed, Peshawar police have said.
Peshawar Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Ijaz Khan reported to Dawn that the Counter Terrorism Department and Khyber police had killed the three terrorists during a joint operation near Regi Lalma on the Peshawar-Khyber border on Tuesday night.
Security forces said the three terrorists were returning to Peshawar to ‘carry out terrorist activities’ in Khyber district before they were intercepted. Police say they also recovered a cache of automatic weapons, grenades and ammunition.
The main handler reportedly provided housing to the suicide bomber, who police have said was an Afghan exile, and helped him navigate the provincial capital. The suicide bomber had a birth certificate issued by National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA), and his family had Pakistani document as well, although officials believe they were likely acquired fraudulently.
Intelligence officials said they were aware of and tracking the terrorist network before the Imambargah attack. The same group had attempted to attack Christmas celebrations in Peshawar last year, but police had put heavy security in place to thwart the attempt. Officials also said the group was responsible for the targeted killings of Hakeem Satnam Singh, religious scholar Sheikh Abdul Hameed, and assistant sub-inspector of police (ASI) Imtiaz Alam.
The mastermind of the terrorist group was arrested last year, police indicated on Monday.
Last Friday, a suicide bomber detonated himself at an Imambargah in Peshawar, killing at least 63 worshippers, including a policeman, and injuring scores more. The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack.