LAHORE: In a gun battle that lasted all night, police thwarted an ambush by more than a dozen militants on a police post in Mianwali killing two of the attackers, officials said.

The ambush comes on the heels of back-to-back terrorist attacks in Balochis­tan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa that claimed scores of lives since Friday.

A police constable embraced martyrdom during the latest attack initiated by the militants belonging to an offshoot of the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

Guns fell silent on Sunday morning and the operation ended at 7:45am, according to senior police officials.

This was the second strike by the TTP’s same Tipu Group, repulsed by the Punjab police, in Mianwali this year, as the Makkarwal police station in the district earlier came under attack in February, said Punjab IGP Dr Usman Anwar.

The target this time was the Kundal police patrolling post in Isakhel Tehsil. In the ensuing gunfight, the Punjab Highway Patrol (PHP), a third-tier force of the police, swiftly engaged the militants, preventing their attempt to seize the checkpoint and harm officers.

Additional pol­ice force and corporals from the Counter-Terr­orism Department (CTD) soon arrived at the scene and contributed to the operation, resulting in the elimination of two militants.

Sources in police said the militants had entered Mianwali from KP’s Lakki Marwat district.

“The terrorists used latest weapons and upon firm retaliation escaped into the surrounding hilly area towards KP,” sources told Dawn.

Soon after receiving information of the attack, Punjab police chief reached Mianwali and held meetings with the CTD. He was told that there were four police personnel at the PHP who had retaliated and fought against the 12 to 15 militants, armed with latest equipment and weapons.

Talking to Dawn, he said Makkarwal police station came under attack by armed militants. The police personnel, however, survived due to the timely response.

Giving details, AIG Wasim Sial of Punjab CTD told Dawn that 12 to 15 terrorists attacked the Kundal PHP patrolling post on Saturday at around 23:45pm.

He said the PHP police assisted by the CTD thwarted the attack successfully. During the operation, he added that head constable Haroon embraced martyrdom while displaying exceptional bravery.

“Several terrorists sustained injuries and following a thorough search police recovered bodies of two terrorists,” he said. “The operation concluded at 7:45am this morning.”

The CTD Punjab chief said that one of the terrorists had been identified as Zubair Nawaz, brother of Arshad Nawaz, emir of Tipu Group of Lakki Marwat, with the aid of database and local intelligence.

He said Zubair was wanted by both Punjab and KP authorities for his involvement in the murder of police officers, members of the Shia community, as well as his involvement in robberies and extortion activities.

“The other terrorist, identified as Mohammad Khan, was a dedicated member of the group who proved to be even more dangerous than Zubair,” Mr Sial said.

He was identified with the help of Nadra record, intellige­nce agencies, and advanced software utilised by the CTD Punjab.

The IG police Punjab, the RPO Sargodha, the DPO Mianwali and other senior police officers attended the funeral prayers of the martyred police constable.

Khursheed Anwar Khan in Mianwali also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, October 2nd, 2023

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