ISLAMABAD, Sept. 1 (Xinhua) -- The Pakistani military said on Thursday that over 300 militants of Islamic State or the Daesh have been arrested, including a local leader.
Army spokesman Lt. General Asim Saleem Bajwa told a news conference that the IS leader for Pakistan Hafiz Omar and 309 of its members, including 25 foreigners of Afghan, Syrian and Iraqi nationalities have been detained across the country.
"There is no organized presence of Daesh in Pakistan and six members of the Pakistani Taliban were the first to switch loyalties to Daesh in January 2015 in Afghanistan and the group now operates on the Afghan side of the border," Bajwa said.
Afghan and the U.S. officials confirmed last month that Hafiz Saeed Khan, IS chief for the so-called Khorasan province that includes Pakistan, Afghanistan, parts of Iran and Central Asia, was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Nangarhar province.
Khan earlier headed the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan in Orakzai tribal region of Pakistan. The IS leadership in the Middle East had accepted the allegiance of Khan and his supporters.
IS claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing in a rally in Kabul in July that had killed nearly 80 and injured over 300.
"The presence of the Daesh in Pakistan is a challenge for Pakistan," the spokesman said.
He disputed claims by IS about a dealy attack on lawyers in the Pakistani city of Quetta last month, which had killed about 70 people and injured dozens others.
He said IS was born, centered and funded in the Middle East but it spread its "tentacles to the entire world."
"Daesh was trying to enter Pakistan," the spokesman said, adding that the group would pay 1,000 rupees (9 U.S. dollars) to hired individuals for wall chalking in big Pakistani cities to show that the group has some presence in Pakistan."
"The people linked to Daesh had plans to target important personalities belonging to different walks of life and state symbols," Bajwa said.
Giving update on achievements of operation codenamed "Zarb-e-Azb" in the tribal region of North Waziristan, he said 3,500 terrorists have so far been killed and 992 hideouts destroyed.
Some 900 terrorists have been killed in another operation in Khyber tribal region, while 537 personnel of armed forces lost lives and 2,272 others injured.