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By Javed Mahmood
KARACHI – The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has replaced its entire network of operatives in Karachi because a crackdown by security forces has made it difficult for the militants to carry out acts of terrorism.
“Police action against the terrorists in the city had forced them to make changes in (their) ranks,” Fayyaz Khan, chief of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of Sindh police, told Central Asia Online.
“We have succeeded in dismantling the network of the Taliban in Karachi, and we will continue our efforts to eliminate the terrorism,” he said.
As examples of success against the militants, Khan said the police killed the Karachi TTP chief, Qari Shahid, in an encounter in Korangi in December. Authorities have arrested four other key members of the TTP who were involved in two blasts, one hitting the CID Saddar headquarters and the other at Sea View, he said.
The killing of Qari Shahid and arrest of CID and Sea View bombing suspects left the TTP with no other option but to go into hiding in Karachi, Khan said.
“We have a strong network of … informers, and we will continue to penetrate into the new network of the Taliban to foil their nefarious motives of promoting terrorism in the city,” Khan added.
TTP admits to changes
The TTP has admitted to making changes, but it put a different spin on the restructuring.
“The TTP was facing difficulties managing and maintaining its network of operatives in Karachi,” Abu Okasha, a TTP spokesman, said from an undisclosed location. “As a result, the organisation has replaced its operatives in the city.” TTP members from Karachi have been sent to other cities and the militants have brought new faces to Karachi from elsewhere, he said.
In January, the TTP changed the leaders of a few of its different branches in Karachi, but in recent weeks the organisation had reshuffled the entire network, he said.
But he conceded another reason behind this sweeping change was to keep the network safe from law enforcement agencies, he said.
By shuffling its members, the TTP will be able to accomplish its tasks in Karachi, he added.
Okasha did not disclose the number of TTP operatives and heads of branches recently deployed in the city, calling the information confidential.
In 2011, the TTP attacked the Pakistan Naval Station Mehran and bombed the residence of CID police officer Aslam Chaudhry, CID headquarters, Abdullah Shah Ghazi’s shrine and Sea View, which claimed more than three dozen lives, Khan conceded, adding the terrorists this year would not be able to carry out such major activity because of the stepped-up monitoring of TTP suspects.
Killing Qari Shahid, a terrorist mastermind, in December seriously set back the TTP and its structure in Karachi, Khan said.
Interrogating his widow elicited key clues that led to arrests of key Taliban members in Karachi and exposed the organisation’s network, he added.
Regardless of changes in the militant group, the police are determined to take action against the Taliban and to eliminate the TTP network, Khan said.