• Police van targeted by militants, six die en route to security duty
• Exchange of fire with militants near Afghan border claims two soldiers’ lives
• PM, KP CM, interior minister express grief over attack on policemen

LAKKI MARWAT / BAJAUR: Eight law enforcement officials, including six policemen and two soldiers, were martyred in two separate incidents in Lakki Marwat and Bajaur districts on Wednesday.

The first incident occurred in the Kurrum Par area of Lakki Marwat in the morning when militants opened fire on a police van, killing six personnel, including an assi­stant sub-inspector (ASI). The attack was later claimed by the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in a statement.

An official said a team of the Abbas police checkpost was on its way to the Wanda Shahabkhel area to perform security duty at a weekly cattle market when militants opened fire on their van with sophisticated weapons from multiple sides, killing six law enforcers on the spot.

He said the area where the attack took place was surrounded by mountains and bordered Karak district.

“The martyred policemen included ASI Ilm Din, lower head constable Parvez Khan and constables Ali Usman, Dil Jan, Ahmad Nawaz and Mehmood,” the official said, adding the police van was also damaged in the attack. The assailants later fled with the weapons and bullet-proof jackets of the martyred policemen.

After hearing the gunshots, villagers rushed to the crime scene and could be seen covering the bodies with pieces of cloth in video clips shared on social media.

The official said a large contingent of police, led by district police chief Ziauddin Ahmed, reached the spot and launched a search operation for the attackers.

“Police chased the attackers in the mountainous terrain and succeeded in seizing their motorcycles and also recovered the bullet-proof jackets they had made off with,” he claimed. He further said the law enforcers found blood at the militants’ hideout, indicating some of the assailants might have been injured in retaliatory fire by the policemen.

The bodies were shifted to the police lines located in the district headquarters complex of Tajazai where their funeral prayers were offered.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Inspector General of Police (IGP) Moazzam Jah Ansari told journalists that such attacks could not shatter the strong resolve of the police force to eliminate terrorism.

“In the recent months, the Lakki Marwat police have eliminated several terrorist groups, and today’s attack on policemen proves that [terrorists] are taking their last breaths,” he maintained. He added that a comprehensive strategy was being formulated to ensure complete elimination of militants and sustainable peace and harmony.

IGP Ansari said the resources of the Lakki Marwat police would be reassessed and any shortage of personnel, weapons and vehicles fulfilled.

“Local residents are enlightened, educated and peace-loving and they will not allow miscreants to destroy peace in their district,” he stressed, asking the local elders to attend jirgas instead of coming out on roads for peace, and persuade people to cooperate with the police to completely eliminate militancy.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and KP Chief Minister Mehmood Khan condemned the attack and paid tribute to the martyred policemen.

“The nation salutes the sons who sacrificed their lives for the motherland,” the PM said, adding the entire nation stood firm with an unbreakable resolve against terrorism. He also expressed sympathies with the families of the martyrs.

CM Khan took notice of the incident and sought a report from the provincial police chief. “The incident is very tragic and the sacrifices of the martyrs will not go in vain,” he stated.

Soldiers martyred

Meanwhile, two soldiers were martyred and a militant killed in a clash near the Pak-Afghan border area in the Charmang region of Bajaur district.

In a statement, the Inter-Services Public Relations said the security forces and militants exchanged gunfire early on Wednesday morning in the Hilal Khel area near the Afghan border. During the intense battle, the statement said, a militant was killed, and weapons and ammunition seized from him. The killed attacker was actively involved in terrorist activities against security forces in the region, the statement said.

During the exchange of fire, it said, Naik Taj Muhammad, a 33-year-old resident of Kohat; and Lance Naik Imtiaz Khan, 30, from Malakand were martyred.

On the other hand, regarding the killing of four of their members in Dera Ismail Khan district on Tuesday, the TTP claimed they were targeted by a drone before a raid.

Published in Dawn, November 17th, 2022

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