7:23 pm - Sunday November 8, 2015

Pak Court Declares Taliban Chief ‘Proclaimed Offender’

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Pakistani Taliban chief Mullah Fazlullah and the outfit’s former spokesman Shahidullah Shahid were today declared “proclaimed offenders” by a court here in connection with last year’s deadly assault on Karachi airport.

The Karachi Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) declared Fazlullah, 40, and Shahid “proclaimed offenders” for the brazen attack on the airport on June 8 in which 29 persons and 10 foreign attackers were killed.

The court’s action came two days after the US declared Fazlullah a global terrorist and slapped sanctions against him.

The Karachi assault, claimed by Uzbek militants associated with the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), had underlined Pakistani Taliban’s reach and its ability to recruit foreign fighters to carry out suicide attacks.

The militants had entered the Jinnah International Airport in two groups, but were killed by security forces in a bloody standoff that lasted for 13 hours.

Today, three accused being tried in the case – Sarmad Siddiqui, Nadeem alias Burger and Asif Zaheer – were presented in the court after the hearing resumed, Geo TV reported.

The three have been accused of being involved in the airport attack.

The ATC adjourned the hearing of the case till January 29.

Pakistani Taliban had claimed the attack as a revenge for the airstrikes by Pakistan army in the restive North Waziristan region.

The attack prompted Pakistan army to launch an all-out operation in the region during which more than 1,500 militants have been killed, according to army.

Fazlullah — nicknamed the “Radio Mullah” — is also the mastermind of the Peshawar school massacre that left 150 people dead, mostly students.

He was said to be in contact with the Peshawar attackers during the assault on the army-run school.

Fazlullah, believed to be hiding in Afghanistan’s Kunar province, was the leader of the Taliban in Swat Valley and became the Taliban chief in November 2013 after the killing of Hakimullah Mehsud in a US drone strike in North Waziristan.

Shahid has joined Middle Easter outfit Islamic State after leaving TTP and is hiding somewhere in the tribal region.

Pakistan stepped up its campaign to wipe out militants from the restive northwest tribal areas in the aftermath of Taliban’s Peshawar school carnage last month.

A National Action Plan has been formed to deal with the menace and a six-year-old moratorium on the death penalty was also ended in terror cases.

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