Pakistan’s army has killed six suspected militants in two raids on the rugged Afghan-Pakistani border, it said on Saturday, amid ongoing military operations against an array of militant groups in the region.
Meanwhile on Sunday, officials said three Pakistani police were killed and another paramilitary soldier died when their position was attacked in Baluchistan province. Two of the attackers were killed and authorities said surviving militants may have fled to nearby North Waziristan.
Baluchistan has suffered from separatist violence at the hands of Baloch insurgents, but the concurrent struggle with the Pakistani Taliban underscores the mounting challenges facing the army in the region.
Meanwhile, the army mounted successful raids on Friday after “credible intelligence” pointed to militant hideouts in Tank and North Waziristan, both districts of the restive, mountainous Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
The province has been the scene of intense violence in recent years between the government and Tehreek-e-Taliban-Pakistan, the local branch of the militant movement that emerged in the 1980s from factions of Islamist resistance fighters against the Soviet Union.
Pakistan was a major base of operations for the Afghan resistance, and militant networks have endured for decades in the area despite multiple military operations to oust them, starting in 2007 when the Pakistani Taliban came into existence.
Violence has worsened since November, when a ceasefire between the TTP and the government ended.
Security forces also seized weapons and ammunition from the hideouts on Friday and were carrying out a clearance operation of the area, the military said.
While sharing ideology and strong ties with its Afghan counterpart, TTP is a separate group to the rulers of Kabul, who seized power in the neighbouring country in August 2021 as US and Nato troops were in the final stages of their pullout.
The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan has emboldened the Pakistani militants, who have stepped up attacks on police and troops in recent months.
Footprints of ISIS activity are also found in the region. Earlier in the week, security force killed an ISIS commander identified as Shafi Ullah in an intelligence-based operation in the Bajur district, another area in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan. He was among three militants killed on Wednesday.
Pakistan’s military has carried out major operations in recent years in the tribal belt along the Afghan border, which served as a safe haven for local and foreign militants for decades. However, militants still carry out attacks in the region.