Bannu ambush

Published September 2, 2023

TERRORIST violence continues to take a heavy toll on our security personnel. At least nine troops were martyred when a suicide bomber targeted a military convoy in Bannu’s Janikhel area on Thursday. Only a few days earlier, militants had ambushed a police vehicle in neighbouring Lakki Marwat district, resulting in the martyrdom of two police personnel. According to reports on social media, a little-known group calling itself Lashkar-i-Sufyan Karvan has claimed responsibility for the Bannu attack. Though this group may not be a known entity in the murky world of terrorism, it is said to be linked to the Hafiz Gul Bahadur outfit, which has a well-earned reputation for militant violence, and is part of the TTP conglomerate. In a related development, two militants reportedly associated with the Lashkar-i-Islam outfit were eliminated in Peshawar’s outskirts by KP’s Counter Terrorism Department in an intelligence-based operation. This outfit was at one time headed by dreaded militant Mangal Bagh, now dead, and is also linked to the TTP.

After analysing the latest acts of violence, two major concerns need to be addressed by the state. Firstly, terrorists have a wide footprint across KP and northern Balochistan, and have, in fact, indulged in acts of violence within the KP capital. Their freedom to act across an extensive geographic space needs to be curtailed. Secondly, the recent acts of violence are nearly all linked to the banned TTP. While the terrorist group owns some attacks and keeps quiet about others, there is little doubt that it retains its penchant for lethality, and neutralising it should be the security establishment top priority. In the world of militancy, it is not unusual for fighters to adopt new names for their groups. Therefore, the authorities should not get caught up in nomenclatures, but go after key individuals and dismantle the terrorist infrastructure. More also needs to be done to protect the security forces — both military and police personnel. Militants have reportedly had access to sophisticated American gear abandoned in Afghanistan; these supply lines need to be choked, and our forces equipped with gear to defend themselves. And while the state should turn up the heat on the Afghan Taliban to shut down terrorist sanctuaries on their soil, protecting Pakistani territory and ejecting and/ or eliminating militants operating here is the responsibility of our military.

Published in Dawn, September 2nd, 2023

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