Police and witnesses in central Pakistan say that suspected Islamic State militants have executed a kidnapped officer of the country’s prime intelligence agency and dropped his chained body on a busy road before driving away.

Police in the city of Multan, where the rare incident occurred, say they found the body early Saturday morning and it was dressed like detainees at the U.S.-run Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba.

Officials identified the slain man as Umar Mobeen Gilani, saying he was kidnapped nearly three years ago by unknown gunmen in Multan, where he was serving in a counterterrorism unit of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI.

A message inscribed on Gilani’s shirt said that “Daesh Pakistan” killed “ISI spy” and mentioned the date when he was kidnapped, according to police officials. Daesh is the Arabic acronym for Islamic State.

An official at the spy agency confirmed to VOA that Gilani was an ISI operative. Requesting anonymity, the official said that a major manhunt is underway in Multan to locate perpetrators of the crime but would not discuss further details.

Stepped-up attacks

The Middle East-based Islamic State terrorist group lately has stepped up attacks in Pakistan.

The deadliest strike took place last month when an IS suicide bomber blew himself up in a crowded Sufi shrine in southern Sindh province, killing more than 90 devotees and wounding over 300 more. The victims mostly belonged to the minority Shi’ite Muslim community.

Multan and adjoining southern districts of Pakistan’s most populous Punjab province have traditionally hosted radical Islamic groups, some of which are blamed for extremist and sectarian violence in the country.

The southern region is considered the heartland of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi or LeJ, an outlawed Sunni militant group blamed for deadly attacks against Shiite Muslims.

Some Pakistani officials suspect LeJ members have lately joined hands with IS’s regional franchise “Khorasan Province” to promote the Middle East-based terrorist group’s extremist ideology in Pakistan-Afghanistan region.  

The government, however, insists IS has no “organized presence” in Pakistan and security forces are determined not to allow the terrorist group to establish a foothold in the country.

Officials say that IS is plotting attacks in Pakistan from its save havens in border regions of neighboring Afghanistan.  

Pakistan’s military has recently launched a new nation-wide counterterrorism operation, which is also tasked to target suspected militant hideouts in Punjab.

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