(from top-left) Lt Col Kashif Ali, Naik Khurshid, Sepoy Raja, Havaldar Sabir, Sepoy Sajjad and Capt Ahmed Babar.—ISPR
(from top-left) Lt Col Kashif Ali, Naik Khurshid, Sepoy Raja, Havaldar Sabir, Sepoy Sajjad and Capt Ahmed Babar.—ISPR

• ISPR says six militants killed during follow-up operation in North Waziristan
• Sanitisation operation underway to eliminate any other militants present in the area
• Hafiz Gul Bahadur-affiliated group claims responsibility

PESHAWAR: Seven sec­urity personnel, inc­luding two officers, embraced martyrdom when militants targeted a paramilitary camp in the Mir Ali area of North Waziristan on Saturday.

At 6:15am, a group of six militants stormed the Frontier Corps’ post in the Khaddi market area. The militants rammed an explosives-laden vehicle into the gate, followed by multiple blasts, including a suicide bombing, said local officials.

A statement was issued by the military’s media wing, the Inter-Services Pub­lic Relations (ISPR), which said the attack took place in the early hours of Saturday when a group of six militants attacked the post.

A portion of the building collapsed following multiple attacks; resultantly, five security personnel — Havildar Sabir, a resident of district Khy­ber; Naik Khurshid, a resident of district Lakki Marwat; Sepoy Nasir, a res­i­dent of district Pesha­war; Sepoy Raja, a resident of district Kohat and Sepoy Sajjad, a resident of district Abbottabad — embraced martyrdom.

The ISPR stated that subsequently a clearance operation, led by Lieutenant Colonel Syed Kashif Ali, was launched and the militants were effectively engaged by the army. Six militants were killed in the gun battle during the clearance operation. “However, during the intense exchange of fire, leading his troops from the front, 39-year-old Lieutenant Colonel Syed Kashif Ali, a resident of Karachi, and 23-year-old Captain Muhammad Ahmed Badar, a resident of district Talagang, having fought gallantly, paid the ultimate sacrifice and embraced Shahadat,” the statement read.

It said a sanitisation operation was being conducted to eliminate any other militants present in the area, adding that security forces were determined to “wipe out the menace of militancy from the country and such sacrifices of the brave soldiers further strengthen our resolve”.

Hafiz Gul Bahadur’s outfit

A group affiliated with Hafiz Gul Bahadur, previously a government contractor and a good Taliban-turned-militant leader, has claimed responsibility for the attack. Bahadur’s outfit is the strongest militant group in North Waziristan. He was flushed out in Operation Zarb-i-Azb in 2014 and fled to Afghanistan.

Since then, Bahadur has been carrying out attacks against security forces and security installations. On the other hand, the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakis­tan (TTP) is making efforts to bring Bahadur’s group under its umbrella. It has not been successful so far.

It may be noted that attacks against law enfor­c­e­ment agencies surged when, on November 28, 2022, the banned TTP called off the ceasefire it had agreed with the government in June the same year.

The banned outfit ord­ered its militants to stage attacks across the country, according to a statement from the group. It claimed that the decision to end the ceasefire was taken in light of attacks launched by the military in Lakki Marwat district.

Pakistan has consistently been asking the interim Afghan government to ensure effective border management on their side of the border as Kabul is expected to fulfil its obligations and deny the use of Afghan soil by terrorists for perpetrating acts of terrorism against Pakistan.

On Dec 23, 2023, at least 23 soldiers were martyred and more than 30 wounded when militants belonging to the banned Tehreek-i-Jihad Pakistan (TJP) stormed a compound used by the military in Dera Ismail Khan’s Daraban area.

On the same day, two military operations in Darazinda and Kolachi resulted in the death of 21 militants and claimed the lives of two soldiers, the military’s media wing said in a statement.

At the time, the military had said that a group of six militants had stormed a security post but their attempt was foiled.

The assault was followed by blasts, as militants rammed an explosives-laden vehicle into the gate and carried out a subsequent suicide bombing.

“The resulting explosion caused the building to collapse, resulting in multiple casualties. All six militants were engaged and killed,” the ISPR statement had said.

Published in Dawn, March 17th, 2024

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