ISLAMABAD: Terming Monday night’s attack on a police party an act of terrorism, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed warned that this was a signal that terrorism had come to Islamabad.
Speaking to reporters after attending the funeral of martyred Head Constable Munawar Hassan at Police Lines on Tuesday, the minister said this was the first such incident of the New Year and said that all law enforcement agencies needed to raise their guard.
“This is not a matter of petty theft or dacoity, this purely is an act of terrorism,” he said.
Also on Tuesday, the media arm of the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack. A media release from Umar Media quoting TTP Spokesperson Mohammad Khurasani identified the two attackers as Zarrar and Umar.
TTP claims responsibility for Monday night attack on police party; Sheikh Rashid says terrorists’ sleeper cell identified
The minister also said that police had tracked down the terrorists’ sleeper cell in Rawalpindi’s Misriyal area through the registration of their motorcycle.
On Tuesday, as the martyred policeman was laid to rest in the H-11 graveyard with full honours, police registered a case against the two slain suspects, which includes charges of terrorism as well as murder and attempted murder.
Police officers told Dawn that one of the injured policemen is in critical condition and has been placed on a ventilator. Of the two others, one had only sustained minor injuries while the condition of the other is said to be improving.
Police say investigators have tangible clues and an in-depth investigation is ongoing.
Officials told Dawn the men had acquitted themselves honourably during the ambush. They said the men at the halting point were in an open space and it was hard for them to find cover or retaliate in that situation.
They said in such cases, human instinct is to try to save oneself, but the men acted bravely and took down the terrorists.
Providing further details about the assailants, sources in the police department said that the two men carried a Kalashnikov and 9MM pistols, weapons rarely used by robbers and dacoits.
They also said that while petty criminals attack only when stopped for checking, these assailants stopped some distance from the police party and opened fire on them without any warning.
Although nothing was recovered from them that could have aided in their identification, the officers said the attackers were carrying weapons, ammunition and miswaks.
In addition, the men wore surgical gloves and had fully covered their faces, while the 2021-model Honda 125 used by the attackers was purchased by one of them in Nov 2021 and registered in his name.
Police said the two men were Swabi natives but the vehicle was registered to an address in Rawalpindi, where one of the men used to live.
Sources said the incident bore all the hallmarks of previous terror attacks on policemen in the twin cities.
A similar attack occurred in March 2021 near Container Chowk, Golra, where one policeman was martyred and two others injured. In this attack as well, automatic weapons and 9MM and 30 bore pistols were used.
Published in Dawn, January 19th, 2022