DERA ISMAIL KHAN: Four constables were martyred while a station house officer (SHO) and two passers-by injured when a police party came under attack on the Indus Highway within the jurisidiction of Parova police station on Tuesday, official sources said.

According to sources, the police party led by Parova SHO Tahir Nawaz was patrolling Mahra Town when they were intercepted by assailants on a motorcycle and a double-cabin pickup. The attackers opened fire, leaving five of the personnel and two passers-by seriously injured. They escaped after the attack.

The injured were rushed to the district headquarters hospital of Dera Ismail Khan, where four constables succumbed to their wounds.

The deceased were identified as Constables Muhammad Asif, Javed (driver), Mirbaz and Sarfaraz. The injured included SHO Tahir Nawaz and passers-by Ghulam Yaseen and Abdul Hameed.

The SHO, who sustained bullets in his abdomen and leg, was stated to be in a precarious condition. He was shifted to the Combined Military Hospital from the DHQ hospital. However, later he was shifted to Peshawar due to his critical condition.

Sources in the district police said that senior police officials, including regional police officer Dar Ali Khattak, district police officer Dr Muhammad Iqbal and DSP Mehr Ali along with heavy contingent of police rushed to the area soon after the attack.

The police cordoned off the area and launched a search operation in the surrounding localities to track down the attackers. Reports received from the area suggested that people had been restricted to their homes.

It is worth mentioning that the area is infamous for targeted attacks on the police. Several attacks were carried on police personnel in this area where a local militant organisation is still active.

According to bomb disposal unit official Inayatullah Tiger, a Qingqi rickshaw with 45 to 50kg explosive was also seized from the site of the attack near Abasin fuel station. He said the explosive on the rickshaw was disposed of.

According to Reuters, Hizbul Ahrar, a splinter group of the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, claimed the attack. “Today Hizbul Ahrar target killers ... made a police vehicle their target,” the group’s spokesman, Aziz Yousafzai, said in a statement sent to Reuters via Whatsapp.

Published in Dawn, February 13th, 2019