• Two army men martyred in Lakki operation, one in D.I. Khan blast
• Five civilians also fall victim to IED blast
• ISPR reaffirms pledge to eliminate terrorists

GWADAR / DERA ISMAIL KHAN: At least 17 soldiers were martyred in different incidents in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, including a militant attack in Gwadar, a remote-controlled bomb explosion in Dera Ismail Khan and a security operation in Lakki Marwat, the military said on Friday.

A fourth incident, another remote-controlled blast in Dera Ismail Khan, left five people dead and at least 24 injured, including police officials.

In the Gwadar ambush, 14 Pakistan Army soldiers lost their lives after militants attacked two vehicles of security forces.

The military vehicles came under attack while moving from Pasni to Ormara in the coastal district, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement.

“Sanitisation operation is being carried out in the area and perpetrators of this heinous act will be hunted down and brought to justice,” it said. “Security forces of Pakistan are determined to eliminate the menace of terrorism from the country and such sacrifices of our brave soldiers further strengthen our resolve.”

Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar condemned the Gwadar attack and vowed that the “evil intentions” of militants would not be allowed to succeed. He paid tribute to the martyred soldiers for sacrificing their lives for the nation’s safety.

“The entire nation, including me, is proud of its martyrs,” Mr Kakar said, adding that such attacks would never be able to demoralise the nation and its forces.

Caretaker Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani also condemned the attack and described such acts as reprehensible. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the martyred and injured. Pakistan stands resolute against terrorists,” he posted on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

Balochistan’s Caretaker Chief Minister Ali Mardan Khan Domki and PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari also paid tribute to the soldiers.

In a statement, Mr Domki described such incidents as a conspiracy aimed at sabotaging peace in the province, adding that no one would be allowed to disturb the hard-earned peace.

In a social media post, the PPP quoted Mr Bhutto-Zardari as saying that the fight against terrorism would continue until the “last terrorist is eliminated”.

PPP leader Sherry Rehman also issued a condemnation. “What a price our country has paid in this long war against terrorism! So many lives left desolate,” she tweeted. “Heart goes out to the families of the martyrs and the injured. Their sacrifices will be remembered.”

IED explosions

Hours before the Gwadar attack, a series of bomb blasts targeting convoys of police and security forces left six people — five civilians and a soldier — martyred and 24 others injured in Dera Ismail Khan district.

In the first incident, five passers-by were killed and 24 others, including civilians and police officials, wounded when a police convoy was targeted in the Kulachi tehsil, District Police Officer (DPO) Abdul Rauf Babar Qaisrani said. The convoy was on its way to a checkpoint when an improvised explosive device (IED) planted in a motorcycle went off, Mr Qaisrani said. The bodies and the injured persons were shifted to the District Headquarters Hospital.

The DPO said the attack took place at a time when the police were already at war against militants, adding that most of the victims were civilians. After the incident, police and security forces cordoned off the area and started a search operation.

Regional Police Officer (RPO) Nasir Mehmood Satti visited the hospital to inquire about the health of injured victims.

The second IED explosion took place in Hathala — a town located in the Kulachi tehsil on the border between Tank and Dera Ismail Khan districts — targeting a convoy of police and security forces. A soldier was martyred in the incident.

Security operations

Separately, security forces also conducted two intelligence-based operations in which two soldiers were martyred.

In the first operation in Dera Ismail Khan’s Rori area, soldiers killed a suicide bomber and injured two others. The killed militant was identified as Usama, who was planning to carry out a high-profile attack in the area.

In the second operation, conducted in KP’s Lakki Marwat district, security forces killed a militant and destroyed several hideouts.

However, two soldiers also embraced martyrdom during the intense exchange of fire with militants.Pakistan has witnessed a surge in acts of terrorism over the past year, especially in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, after the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan ended its ceasefire with the government in November 2022.

Published in Dawn, November 4th, 2023

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