Police in Pakistan said Wednesday its forces killed at least a dozen militants during a shootout on the outskirts of the southern port city of Karachi.
Rao Anwar, a senior Pakistani police official, said five al-Qaeda operatives and seven members of a notorious outlawed anti-Shia extremist group known as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) were killed during the deadly encounter.
The slain militants had been involved in subversive activities, including the killing of civilians and attacks on security forces, Anwar said.
The senior police official also stated that officers recovered bomb-making material, guns and assault rifles from the possession of the dead militants.
On February 12, nearly 100 people were arrested in Pakistan on suspicion of having links to al-Qaeda and other militant groups and planning attacks across the country. The militants were detained after counter-extremism forces raided their hideouts during a series of raids across Karachi.
Pro-Taliban militants and al-Qaeda operatives have been active in Karachi, which is home to numerous ethnic groups, carrying out several attacks in the past.
Rights groups say the Islamabad government must take decisive actions against forces involved in the targeted killing of Shia Muslims.
In the country's troubled northwestern tribal regions, Islamabad has been engaged in a major offensive against militant hideouts since June 2014, when a deadly raid on the Karachi International Airport ended the government's faltering peace talks with the pro-Taliban militants.
Pakistan's army has intensified military operations against the militants since pro-Taliban elements killed over 150 people, most of them children, in an armed assault on a school in the northwestern city of Peshawar in December 2014.
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