ISLAMABAD: A day after a massive bomb attack at the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sindh, security forces on Friday hit back at militant groups across the country and claimed to have eliminated at least 100 “terrorists” in a series of raids on their hideouts and gun battles.
In a statement about the raids that began late on Thursday night, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said that “over 100 terrorists have been killed and sizeable apprehensions have been made”.
It was the highest number of “terrorists” killed in a day by security agencies in recent years. The raids, targeting militant hideouts in Karachi, Quetta, Rawalpindi, Tank, Faisalabad, Layyah, Sheikhupura, and other cities and towns, were conducted by the army, Rangers and civilian law enforcement agencies.
Security forces exact highest single-day toll
Scanty details were available about these operations. The identities and group affiliations of the dead were not disclosed either, expect for a few killed in Karachi and Quetta.
Those killed in Karachi included Malik Tassaduq — Jamaatul Ahrar (JuA), Lashkar-i-Jhangvi (LJ); Naushad Khan alias Mama — JuA and LJ; Shiraz Ahmed — LJ and the militant Islamic State (IS) group; Azizullah — the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and LJ; Sherzad — JuA and LJ; Amin alias Kala — JuA and LJ; Arman Ahmed — LJ and IS; Yasir Siddiqi — JuA and IS, according to the Rangers.
In Quetta, two of those killed were said to be important TTP leaders. They were identified by the Frontier Corps as Molvi Abdul Ghaffoor and Jan Mohammad Mehsud.
The JuA had claimed responsibility for attacks in Peshawar and Lahore, whereas the Sehwan shrine strike had been claimed by the IS.
The shrine attack was one of the deadliest since the Army Public School carnage in December 2014 after which a 20-point National Action Plan for bolstering the fight against terrorism was adopted. Many steps agreed under the plan have remained unimplemented because of various factors.
Soon after the shrine bombing, Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa had vowed to show no further restraint and avenge “every drop of [the] nation’s blood”.
The general, who also ordered closure of crossing points along the 2,600km-long porous Pak-Afghan border and summoned ‘Afghan diplomats’, had in another statement said: “Army is for security of people of Pakistan against all types of threat. Nation would stay steadfast with full confidence in their security forces. We shall not let the hostile agenda succeed whatever it may cost.”
The ISPR said the crackdown against the terrorist groups had been ordered by Gen Bajwa. “Intelligence agencies are making progress to unearth networks behind recent terrorist incidents,” it added.
Meanwhile, security sources say important leads about those involved in the Lahore attack had been obtained.
In Karachi, 27 suspected militants were killed in encounters with police and Rangers. The Pakistan Rangers, Sindh, claimed to have killed 18 `militants’ in two encounters. Officials said the encounters took place in Malir and Manghopir localities.
According to a spokesperson for the Rangers, acting on a tip-off provided by an intelligence agency, the paramilitary force raided a place in Manghopir in the early hours of Friday morning. During an exchange of fire with militants hiding in the area 11 suspects were killed. The exchanged continued for about an hour during which the militants used heavy weapons.
SHO of Memon Goth police station told Dawn that seven suspected militants were killed in two clashes with Rangers — four in Malir-8 area and three in a village off the Superhighway near Ansari Bridge.
Meanwhile, police claimed to have killed nine `militants’, including a would-be suicide bomber, in an encounter in an area on the outskirts of Karachi.
Gulshan-i-Maymar SHO Mir Mohammed Lashari told Dawn that acting on a tip-off, a police party raided a place in Jinjal Goth near Rice Godown off Northern Bypass where in an ensuing encounter nine militants were killed.
In Quetta, security forces claimed to have killed two suspected leaders of the TTP during an operation in Darakhshan Housing Scheme area.
Two FC personnel suffered injuries during the operation.
Sources said the FC conducted the operation after receiving information about the presence of TTP suspects in the Darakhshan area near Quetta.
In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Fata and Afghan border areas, 36 militants were killed in clashes with security forces.
Border crossing points with Afghanistan, including Torkham in Khyber Agency, Kharlachi and Borki in Kurram Agency, and Ghulam Khan in North Waziristan Agency, remained closed for vehicular and human movement.
Long queues of loaded vehicles could be seen on both sides of the border at Torkham and Kharlachi.
Authorities suspended repatriation of tribal people from Afghanistan to North Waziristan via Ghulam Khan check-post for an indefinite period.
Imtiaz Ali in Karachi, Saleem Shahid in Quetta and Zulfiqar Ali in Peshawar contributed to this report
Published in Dawn, February 18th, 2017