Pakistani police gunned down one of the country's most-feared Sunni militant leaders and 13 followers in a mysterious pre-dawn shootout today, killing a man believed to be behind the slaughter of hundreds of the nation's minority Shiites. Malik Ishaq, who directed the operations of the Taliban- and al-Qaeda-linked Lashkar-e-Jhangvi group, was arrested earlier this week on suspicion of being involved in the slaying of two Shiites, a police spokesman says. Details of Ishaq's killing remain cloudy in Pakistan, where extrajudicial slayings by police remain common—especially in pre-staged ambushes.
The police spokesman says that as officers tried to transfer Ishaq from a prison in the city of Multan, gunmen ambushed the police convoy transporting him in an attempt to free the militant. The ensuing gunfight killed Ishaq and at least 13 of his associates, including two of his sons and his deputy, Ghulam Rasool. In a later statement, police said "14 or 15 unidentified armed terrorists" attacked police vehicles to free Ishaq when officers were returning from a raid where they seized weapons, explosives, and detonators on information provided by Ishaq and some of his associates. It also said Ishaq and his associates were killed by those who ambushed the convoy, without elaborating.