LAHORE / DERA GHAZI KHAN: Nine suspected militants linked to the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and four Rangers personnel were killed in a shootout that broke out during a search operation carried out by the Rangers and Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) in Dadoani village, some 15km south of Dera Ghazi Khan, early on Friday.

According to a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the shootout took place when personnel of the Rangers, intelligence agencies and CTD were carrying out a search operation against suspected terrorists associated with the TTP in the Dadoani village, which is located adjacent to Choti Zaireen — seat of the chief of the Leghari tribe and ancestral area of the late former president Farooq Ahmed Khan Leghari.

Law enforcement personnel cordoned off the area and used the loudspeaker of a local mosque to inform citizens that a search operation was being launched and urged any militants to lay down their weapons in a peaceful manner.

A few villagers had come out of their homes and were being searched by the officials when all of a sudden some suspected terrorists opened fire at the security men.

During the ensuing exchange of fire, nine suspected terrorists were killed — identified as Muhammad Asghar Dadoani alias Gorchani Ustad, Muhammad Naeem alias Waqas Dadoani, Naeem Dadoani, Yaqub, Usman, Mirza Khan, Ghulam Farid, Muhammad Usman and Sohail.

The three Punjab Rangers personnel who lost their lives were Hawaldar Asif and two soldiers, Aftab and Azizullah. Two other soldiers suffered injuries and were airlifted to the Combined Military Hospital in Multan. However, a Rangers spokesperson said that Tanvir, one of the injured soldiers, had succumbed to his injuries at the CMH, Multan. Abubakar, the other Rangers soldier, is being treated for injuries at the hospital.

Seven suspects were arrested from Dadoani village and taken to an unknown location for further investigations.

The operation would be continued in order to clear the area of terrorists involved in heinous crimes and terrorist activities, said the ISPR.

The Raddul Fasaad operation seeks to eliminate the “residual/latent threat of terrorism”, consolidating the gains made during Zarb-i-Azb operation, to ensure the security of Pakistan’s borders.

A Rangers official requesting anonymity told Dawn that they had been deployed in the province for two months and most of the terrorists and their facilitators had gone underground. He said they were focusing on breaking the nexus between the terrorists and criminal elements and were taking action across the board against every crime.

He said the border and tribal areas of D.G. Khan, where ‘terrorists’ and hardened criminals were holed up, were no-go areas for the public.

A senior CTD officer said the three suspected terrorists Akram, Naeem and Asghar Dadoani were involved in a number of bank robberies and had killed several people for resisting robbery.

He said that Asghar Dadoani was affiliated to the TTP Qari Yaseen group and had received militant training in Afghanistan. He added that the suspect was also involved in facilitating TTP terrorists at his hideouts.

Published in Dawn, April 15th, 2017

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