Bijnor/New Delhi: A National Investigation Agency (NIA) officer, probing terror cases related to Indian Mujahideen, was on Sunday shot dead by two unidentified motorcycle -borne assailants who also wounded his wife when they were returning home from a wedding near UP's Bijnor town.
In a "planned attack", the killers pumped 24 bullets at 45-year-old Mohd Tanzil Ahmad and four at his wife Farzana, as their daughter, 14, and son, 12, watched the gruesome incident from the back seat of the Wagon-R car they were travelling in, police said, adding the children were not injured.
Late in the evening, NIA IG Sanjeev Kumar said Farzana was "out of danger. There is no damage to her vital organs. She is recovering".
"Ahmad was a brave officer who never hesitated in taking up any challenge. It is a big loss to NIA. We will rise to the occasion and both NIA as well as UP police has taken this as a challenge to bring the culprits before the law," he said.
Ahmad was returning home in Sahaspur village of Bijnor district with his family after attending his niece's wedding in another nearby village in the same district, which is about 150 km from Delhi.
Police termed the killing of Ahmad, posted as Inspector initially with the NIA's intelligence wing and later in its investigation department, as a "planned attack" and did not rule out the possiblity of a terror angle behind the shootout.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh told reporters in Lucknow that he had been apprised of the incident. "Whatever necessary is being done. We are talking (to NIA officials)," Singh said.
Police suspect that Ahmad's movements was being tracked by the assailants who used at least one 9mm pistol in the attack.
"Tanzil Ahmad was shot dead by two motorcycle borne persons when he was returning after attending a marriage ceremony with his wife Farzana," IG (Law and Order) of UP Police Bhagwan Swaroop said.
The incident took place at 12:45 AM when Ahmed, earlier posted as an assistant commandant in BSF and on deputation to NIA, was returning to Sahaspur from the wedding ceremony.
Ahmad, who has been with the NIA ever since the organisation was formed in February 2009, had been investigating many cases especially related to banned Indian Mujahideen terror outfit. His superiors termed him as a thorough professional in intelligence gathering as well as investigation.
According to the police, Ahmad left his home in the evening along with his family to attend a marriage ceremony at a guest house at Sohara village.
On their way back, their vehicle was stopped barely 200 metres from his home by two youths who fired at a very close range.
In New Delhi, NIA IG Kumar said, "When Ahmad was coming back from the function, a planned attack took place on him and he was fired upon. He was killed in the firing while his wife was injured. She has been admitted to Fortis Hospital, Noida."
Ahmad was taken to nearby Cosmos hospital where he was declared brought dead.
The Uttar Pradesh Police have sealed the borders of the district and launched a manhunt for the assailants.
Additional Director General of Police Daljit Chowdhry said "nothing can be ruled out," when asked whether there was a possibility of terror angle behind the attack.
"A very serious offence has taken place in the district and we have taken it very seriously. The body has been sent for post-mortem and details of what actually happened will soon come out. Borders of the state have been sealed and checking is on in the nearby villages to trace those involved in killing of the officer. We are trying to find out the accused and the motive behind the murder," he said.
"Investigations are on. Right now the UP Police, UP ATS, NIA, the DIG of NIA from Lucknow and his team all of them are there on the spot," Chowdhry said.
He said the state police was also trying to ascertain whether the 9 mm pistol used for the crime was country-made or factory-made. "It is definitely a planned attack and not a robbery," he added.
UP Director General of Police Javeed Ahmad said IG Special Task Force (STF) and IG Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) have been sent to Bijnor and the matter is being probed.
"We are also in touch with NIA officers and coordinating with them. We will go deep into it and ensure those involved are arrested", Ahmad said.
Superintendent of Police, Bijnor, Subhash Singh Baghel said Ahmad came to Bijnor on Friday to attend his niece's marriage.
At around 8.00 pm on Saturday evening, Ahmad and his family left their home for the marriage function. When they were returning home past midnight, their vehicle was stopped close to their residence by the two youths on a motorcycle.
"When Ahmad stopped his car, they fired several rounds and escaped," the SP said, adding locals rushed to the spot hearing the gunshots.