• Two ‘assailants’ killed hours after Sarband attack; militants used automatic weapons, thermal sights

PESHAWAR: A senior police officer along with two constables embraced martyrdom in a midnight militant attack, which officials believe is the first of its kind where modern gadgets were used to target police, on Sarband police station on the outskirts of Peshawar.

Deputy Superintendent of Police Sardar Hussain and his gunmen Irshad Khan and Jahanzeb embraced martyrdom in the gun attack on Sarband police station on the outskirts of Peshawar.

The banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack.

While the attackers fled in the dark, hours later two militants believed to be involved in the assault were gunned down in the Sarband area in an exchange of fire with the personnel of the counter-terrorism department of police.

“CTD received information from the intelligence agencies about the militants’ presence in Shinwari Qilla in Sarband area. Information was verified on technical grounds and the militants were surrounded,” a CTD officer explained.

Following an intense exchange of fire, the bodies of two militants, besides arms and ammunition from their procession, were recovered from the area. However, three other militants managed to escape, he said.

CTD officials said one of the two militants killed in the operation had been involved in suicide attacks on Additional IG Police Ashraf Noor in 2017 and Awami National Party (ANP) leader Haroon Bilour in 2018.

Thermal weapon sights

Officials said the militants had carried out a ‘coordinated’ attack and used advanced equipment, including thermal weapon sights, during the attack.

“Since it was night time [darkness], naturally we did not have any method [resour­ces] to see the enemy and they [police official and his gunmen] fell victim of the enemy [attack],” Khyber Pakhtun­khwa Police IG Moazzam Jah Ansari told reporters.

He said, “Sniper weapons or the night vision sights were used for the first time by militants in Peshawar.” The same gadgets had been used by militants in attacks in districts Bannu, Lakki Marwat and Dera Ismail Khan in the past, he added.

“But — we are ready to face the challenge,” he said, adding that the provincial government released funds for the purchase of the thermal weapons sights, with 40 already purchased and 20 each have been dispatched for districts Bannu and Dera Ismail Khan.

He disclosed that police would also use thermal sight drones to locate the militants.

While talking to the media after the funeral of the martyred police officials, IG Ansar said the attack had been successfully repulsed and police had fought gallantly. He said the DSP and his gunmen wanted to enter the police station from the gate on the backside of the police station. They had rushed to the spot in order to help their colleagues repulse the attack, he said, adding that it was “a coordinated attack where the three fell victims”.

SSP Kashif Abbasi said the militants had come from the Khyber tribal district bordering Afghanistan and had lobbed hand grenades and used automatic guns.

“Police force had successfully repelled the attack and the slain police officer chased the fleeing terrorists and tried to encircle them but during an ensuing exchange of fire, he and two other policemen lost their lives,” SSP Abbasi said, adding that a search was launched in Sarband and nearby areas following the attack.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif strongly condemned the terrorist attack and expressed grief and sorrow over the deaths of police officials, the APP reported.

Published in Dawn, January 15th, 2023

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