Police officer killed in Pakistani Taliban attack in Punjab province

Two militants also shot dead in prolonged exchange of gunfire

Pakistani police eliminated two militants during an assault by Pakistani Taliban fighters on a checkpoint in Punjab province on Sunday, during which an officer was killed. EPA
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An officer was killed and three were injured in Punjab province early on Sunday after Pakistani Taliban fighters attacked a police post in the Mianwali district.

Assistant Sub-Inspector Liaqat Ali, from the Counter Terrorism Department Punjab, told The National a dozen armed militants launched an assault on the Kundal police post about midnight.

“In the ensuing fight, the police managed to eliminate two of the militants, while the rest escaped,” he said.

Mr Ali said at the time of the attack there were approximately 12 officers present at the post, and a similar number of attackers.

The clashes occurred in the Essakhel area, which shares a border with the Lakki Marwat district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Mohammad Khurasani, a spokesman for Tahrik-e-Taliban, or TTP, claimed responsibility for the attack.

Punjab Police Chief Usman Anwar said that with support from the Counter-Terrorism Department Punjab, the Kundal Highway Patrolling Post successfully thwarted a terrorist attack by militants.

“Head Constable Haroon was martyred and multiple terrorists were injured in the operation, which concluded after 7am,” the statement read.

It also confirmed the discovery of two militants’ bodies in a subsequent search. They were identified as Zubair Nawaz, who had been wanted for alleged crimes such as killing police officers and attacking the Shia community, and Muhammad Khan, also wanted in connection with terrorism cases.

The Pakistani Taliban are a separate group but are allied with the Afghan Taliban, which took over Afghanistan in August 2021 after the withdrawal of US and Nato forces. The takeover emboldened the TTP, who often carry out attacks near the Afghan border and elsewhere in the country.

Meanwhile, the death toll from Friday's bombing in the Mastung district of the volatile south-western Balochistan province reached 60, as some of those who were critically injured died in hospital overnight and on Sunday, said a spokesman for the main hospital in Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochistan.

Waseem Baig said a few more victims remained on ventilators, while 25 people were stable in the city's main hospital and the military hospital. More than two dozen wounded had earlier been discharged.

A suspected suicide bomber or bombers blew themselves up Friday among a crowd in the Mastung district. It was one of the deadliest attacks targeting civilians in Pakistan in recent months.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, but suspicion is likely to fall on the ISIS regional affiliate known as ISIS-K, which has been involved in fatal bombings in Pakistan.

Updated: October 01, 2023, 3:34 PM