A number of “miscreants” were killed while at least nine people, including Rangers personnel, were wounded in a joint operation conducted by law enforcers against “criminal elements” in the Sakrand village located in Sindh’s Benazirabad Taluka on Thursday, security officials said.

In a statement, the Sindh Rangers said a joint operation was conducted along with the police in Sakrand following intelligence reports on the presence of criminal elements.

“There were reports of high-value criminals in possession of explosives and firearms,” it stated.

“Upon seeing Rangers and police, the armed miscreants opened fire, injuring four Rangers personnel. In retaliatory fire, three miscreants were killed,” the statement added.

A police official offered differing figures. Benazirabad SSP Hyder Raza told Dawn.com that four “miscreants” were killed. He said the operation was initiated to apprehend individuals associated with the outlawed Sindh Revolutionary Army (SRA), a group engaged in subversive activities in Sindh.

He identified the slain as Akhan Ali, Mehar, Sajawal, and an individual named Khirrar.

The injured persons were identified as Sarang, Imamuddin, Allahdad, and Ali Nawaz, he said, adding that five security personnel who sustained injuries included Inspector Mohammad Asif, Abdul Rasheed, Mohammad Awais, Mohammad Naeem, and Mohammad Owais Asghar.

Dr Aqeel Qureshi, the medical superintendent of the Peoples Medical College Hospital, told Dawn.com that five individuals had been admitted to the hospital due to injuries. However, he did not confirm whether injured Rangers personnel were also admitted to the hospital or if any bodies were brought in.

SUP disputes official version

On the other hand, the Sindh United Party (SUP) has contrasted the official account provided by the law enforcement agencies.

Roshan Buriro, the secretary general of the SUP, told Dawn.com that law enforcement agencies had taken into custody Liaquat Jalbani, a veterinary student at Shaheed Benazir Bhutto University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences in Sakrand.

According to Buriro, authorities had brought Jalbani to the residence of Allahdad Jalbani in Mari Jalbani village in Sakrand where the entire operation took place. He also claimed that a confrontation ensued as local residents, including women and children, gathered both inside and outside Allahdad’s house, which led to a scuffle as villagers tried to protect Jalbani.

Buriro further claimed, “The residents successfully secured Jalbani’s release from detention.” He added that the scuffle led to the killing of four of its supporters.

The veracity of Roshan’s claim regarding Liaquat’s release could not be independently verified. According to his account, four villagers lost their lives, while four others were injured.

Buriro revealed that in protest against the incident, villagers had laid four bodies on a portion of the national highway in Sakrand.

“The deceased individuals were supporters of our party,” he claimed, adding that SUP president Syed Zain Shah was en route to Sakrand to participate in the demonstration.

He further alleged that the police were influenced by the PPP, adding that the targeting of party supporters was a deliberate message sent to the SUP in anticipation of the upcoming general elections.

Separately, in a statement, the SUP president strongly condemned the incident, describing it as highly deplorable. He emphasised that the people of Sindh would not tolerate such tactics and accused the PPP of initiating retaliatory actions in the run-up to the general elections.

He further alleged that the police had deliberately targeted and fired upon unarmed SUP supporters at close range.

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