Pakistani police announced on Wednesday that the leader of a Sunni militant group has been killed in the eastern province of Punjab during a shootout.
Malik Ishaq and 11 other senior leaders of the outlawed Laskhar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) party - which is accused of many deadly attacks against Pakistan's Shiite minority - were killed in a gunfight along with Ishaq’s two sons in Muzaffargarh district, authorities said.
The clash started after his supporters attacked a convoy transporting Ishaq, who was arrested on Saturday, and opened fire on it to free him.
The police retaliated and during the shootout the LeJ leader was killed, officials said. Six police officers were reportedly injured.
Punjab Home Minister Shuja Khanzada has confirmed the killings, while a senior police official told AFP that the attack took place after the police seized a cache of explosives, including "three water coolers full of explosive, detonators, a Kalashnikov, some rifles and hundreds of bullets."
"After the recovery when police were returning back, at around 3:00am, more than a dozen terrorists attacked the convoy and tried to rescue Ishaq and others," the police official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi has been accused of carrying out several attacks against the Shiite minority in Pakistan, including two bombings in Quetta two years ago that killed nearly two hundred members of the Shiite Hazara community. The militant group was banned in Pakistan in 2001 and designated as a terrorist group by the US.