Nine Pakistan Army soldiers embraced martyrdom while five terrorists were killed after security forces retaliated to a “dastardly attack” on the Zhob garrison in northern Balochistan on Wednesday, the military’s media affairs wing said.

In a statement issued in the morning, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said the militants launched the attack in the early hours of Wednesday, following which four soldiers were martyred and five others were injured.

The terrorists’ initial attempt “to sneak into the facility was checked by soldiers on duty”, the ISPR said, adding that they were “contained into a small area at the boundary” in the ensuing exchange of fire.

Meanwhile, three “heavily armed terrorists” were killed and a clearance operation was initiated to apprehend the remaining two militants, the ISPR said.

Later, in an update shared at night, the ISPR said the clearance operation had been completed and in total, five terrorists have been sent to hell“.

However, it added, the five soldiers who got critically injured earlier while “fighting gallantly” had succumbed to their injuries and embraced martyrdom.

“Security forces and the nation remain resilient and determined to thwart all such dastardly attempts of the enemy aimed at destroying the peace of Balochistan and Pakistan,” the ISPR statement read.

Earlier today, Zhob District Commissioner (DC) Azeem Kakar had told Dawn.com that a woman civilian was also killed after being caught in the crossfire while five other civilians were left injured. The official added that the severely injured were being referred to Quetta.

DC Kakar said that a passenger bus coming from Dera Ismail Khan was also caught in the firing. He added that “nothing can be said about the number of attackers”, and asserted that all departments were on alert.

Meanwhile, Balochistan Chief Minister Mir Abdul Qudoos Bizenjo condemned the attack on the Zhob garrison and paid tribute to the Pakistan Army for thwarting it by taking swift action.

In a statement, he said that the nation was proud of the sacrifices made by the martyrs and also offered his condolences to their families. “Pakistan Army is the guarantor of peace and security in the region,” the chief minister said.

Separately, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said that Pakistan was safe and secure today due to the sacrifices of the martyrs. “The ongoing war against terrorism is a fight for the country’s future,” he stated.

“In the last decade, our valiant forces and the nation together eradicated the menace of terrorism and in the future too, they will spare no effort to uproot this monster.

“The protection of this country is our mission and our responsibility, which is dearer than our own lives,” the premier added and prayed for the souls of the martyred.

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah also condemned the attack in a statement issued later in the day.

According to the Associated Press of Pakistan (APP), he said the courageous personnel of the security forces sacrificed their lives to prevent “a major catastrophe” and successfully sent “three terrorists to their ultimate fate”.

“I pray for the elevation of the security personnel who embraced martyrdom,” Sanaullah stated, adding that the government would not rest until terrorism was completely eradicated.

The minister further said that the sacrifices of the armed forces would always be remembered and the entire nation stood in solidarity with the families of the martyrs.

Increase in terror attacks

Pakistan has seen an uptick in terror activities, especially in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, after the outlawed TTP ended its ceasefire with the government in November last year.

Earlier this month, four security personnel were martyred while a terrorist was killed after police and Levies checkposts in the Dhana Sar area of Balochistan’s Sherani subdistrict came under attack.

A report released this month by think tank Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies said the first half of the current year witnessed a steady and alarming rise in terror and suicide attacks, claiming the lives of 389 people across the country.

In June, a police official was martyred and two more were injured in a suicide attack on a police van in Balochistan’s Turbat.

In an earlier incident the same month, two soldiers were martyred after a security forces’ checkpost in the Kech district along the Pakistan-Iran border came under attack.

In a press conference in June, Inter-Services Public Relations Director General Maj Gen Ahmed Sharif Chaudhry said that the security forces conducted 13,619 intelligence operations this year in which 1,172 terrorists were killed or arrested.

“On a daily basis, over 77 operations are being carried out by armed forces, police, intelligence agencies, and other law enforcement agencies to rid of the menace of terrorism,” he said.

DG Sharif added that 95 soldiers embraced martyrdom in these operations.


Additional reporting by Iftikhar Sherazi

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