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Pak brigadier killed in audacious attack

By Rezaul H Laskar
Last updated on: October 22, 2009 14:06 IST
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Motorcycle-borne militants on Thursday carried out a brazen daylight ambush in the heart of Islamabad, raking an army vehicle with a hail of bullets, killing a brigadier and his guard in the latest in a wave of deadly terror attacks targeting the Pakistani military.

The militants fired at the jeep in the high security commercial area of G-11 on the outskirts of the city, killing Brigadier Moin-ud-Din and a soldier on the spot, before making a getaway. The driver of the jeep was injured in the attack.

Television footage showed the vehicle was riddled with bullets and its windscreen shattered. The windshield was hit by more than 10 bullets.

Moin-ud-Din was the second brigadier ranking officer to have been killed by a spate of violence which has rocked the country for the past fortnight, leaving more than 185 people dead.

Another brigadier and a colonel were among 23 people killed when Tehrik-e-Taliban militants stormed the army's headquarters in the garrison town of Rawalpindi this month.

Though no group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, which was the second assault in Islamabad in three days, the army said it was the handiwork of the Taliban, which has been blamed for a wave of attacks on security forces.

Islamabad's Inspector General of Police Kaleem Imam told reporters: "It looks like a targeted killing. It appears that someone was following (the brigadier's) movements."

The attack on the brigadier came amidst heightened security in the Pakistani capital as the police braced for Taliban's strikes in reprisals for the ongoing military offensive in South Waziristan and other areas in the restive NWFP.

Authorities have already shut down schools and other educational institutions indefinitely after Tuesday's suicide attack on Islamic University in Islamabad which left six persons dead.

Brigadier Moin-ud-Din was serving with the UN peacekeeping mission in Sudan and had returned to Pakistan only a few days ago following his father-in-law's death.

The police said the assailants had tracked his movements and attacked him after following him in the morning. Several bullets also hit a vehicle parked at an automobile workshop.

Security forces cordoned off the area and sealed several roads after the incident and launched a search for the attackers.

The police detained about 50 suspects soon after the attack that occurred at 8.30 am local time. The head of the Noor-ul-Furqan seminary, located near the slain brigadier's home, and a teenage boy were among suspects rounded up by police.

Inspector General Imam said investigators had searched two seminaries and were questioning six witnesses.

The probe will also focus on unregistered mosques and seminaries whose leaders had delivered "hate speeches" or indulged in other illegal activities, he said.

Meanwhile, the police on Thursday evacuated a busy commercial area in Islamabad following reports that a bomb had been planted there and militants were exchanging fire with security personnel. The report later turned out to be a hoax.

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Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad