NORTH WAZIRISTAN: At least two suspected militants were killed and a soldier protecting a polio team embraced martyrdom in separate incidents of violence in multiple districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Wednesday.

Local officials told Dawn that security personnel, including 25-year-old Sepoy Saqibur Rehman, was deployed on duty to protect polio workers during a vaccination campaign underway in the Spinwam tehsil of Mir Ali, North Waziristan.

A statement issued by the military’s media wing said the militants attempted to disrupt the ongoing polio campaign by firing on the members of the polio team in Spinwam, resulting in the death of the sepoy.

“Security forces deputed to provide protection to the polio team, effectively engaged militants’ location ensuring the safety of all members of the team and extricated them unharmed,” the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said. It added during the shootout Sepoy Rehman, a resident of Mardan, “sacrificed his life in the line of duty and embraced martyrdom”.

Key ‘commander’ of TTP Gandapur group killed in DI Khan operation, says ISPR

According to the ISPR, sanitisation of the area was being carried out to “eliminate any terrorists” found in the locality. The military’s media wing said that security forces were determined to eliminate the menace of terrorism and such sacrifices of the brave soldiers further strengthen the forces’ resolve.

TTP ‘commander’ killed

Meanwhile, an alleged commander of the Tehreek-i-Tablian Pakistan’s Gandapur group was gunned down during a joint operation carried out by the Counter-Terrorism Department, intelligence agencies, and the district police in Dera Ismail Khan.

Official sources said that the operation was conducted to arrest Mazhar Khan, a commander of TTP’s Gandapur chapter wanted by the law enforcement agencies in eight cases pertaining to the targeted killing of police and other law enforcers in Kot Essa village in the jurisdiction of the Daraband police station.

“As [Mazhar] Khan came to know about the raiding party has closed in on him, he opened fire. He, however, was shot dead by the raiding team in the retaliatory fire,” they said, adding “weapons were also recovered” from the slain militant’s possession.

Similarly, in an alleged encounter in district Mardan, police gunned down an “unidentified militant” in the Spainkay area of the district. According to police, the suspect was killed during an alleged encounter.

Rise in militancy

Over the past few months, the country’s security situation has worsened, with militant outfits executing attacks with near impunity. It may be noted that incidents of terrorism have significantly increased inside Pakistan since August 15, 2021, when the Taliban took control of Kabul. The number of people killed in the attacks in Pakistan from August 2021 to April 2023 (21 months) has also increased by 138 per cent.

Published in Dawn, June 1st, 2023

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