Pakistani Taliban attack police stations in country's north-west

Commando operations are under way to rescue a police hostage and stop the militants

Soldiers secure the area after a bombing in Peshawar, Pakistan. AP
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In a wave of violence gripping Pakistan, particularly its north-western Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and tribal districts, two separate attacks have killed at least four people, with a commando operation under way against militants in a police installation in Tank district.

Early on Friday morning, two policemen were killed when militants attacked police positions in Tank, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Muhammad Ibrahim, a spokesman for Tank Police, told The National that at about 2.30am militants killed three policemen in an attack.

He said an operation against the militants was under way and that the district police officer in Tank, Iftikhar Shah, was trapped in the police station.

“The district police officer went inside the police lines along with cops during the operation and he is also trapped on the third floor, while the commandos have besieged militants on the second floor,” Mr Ibrahim said.

He said at least four blasts were heard after the militants stormed the building.

He said the bodies of four extremists were found near police positions and one body was found in the civil secretariat, a few metres from the police lines, which include barracks and checkpoints.

“Besides police, army commandos are also busy in the operation and any further updates will be available once the operation is complete," he said.

Local sources said the number of casualties among police might increase once the operation is complete.

Ansar Al Jihad, a new militant outfit, claimed responsibility for the attack at Tank. Its statement, shared on social media, said it would soon release a video statement "to explain the aims of our organisation".

Security experts, however, say this is a front organisation for Tahrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants, the Pakistani branch of the Taliban, who are now carrying out attacks but using different names.

Analysts say the fake names are part of an effort to hide their links to the Afghan Taliban, who have co-operated with and sheltered TTP for years.

Pakistan's security forces released a statement on the fighting.

"Five terrorists including a suicide bomber attempted to attack the Police Lines in Tank City, however, brave policemen offered stiff resistance. Security forces in the vicinity were immediately mobilised to support the police force and in the ensuing operation, all 5 terrorists were killed."

"However, during intense fire exchanged with the terrorists, three brave policemen, having fought gallantly, embraced shahadat. Effective response of the policemen is a testament of their unrelenting resolve in the fight against terrorism," they said.

Two soldiers shot dead in Khyber

Meanwhile, two Frontier Constabulary personnel were killed in a separate attack late at night in the Bara area of Khyber district in the same province.

District Police Officer of Khyber district, Saleem Abbas Kulachi, told The National that militants attacked a checkpoint jointly manned by the police and Frontier Constabulary personnel in the Nala Khwar area of Bara Tehsil.

“Two FC personnel were martyred and six personnel were injured, including one policeman and five FC men,” he added.

He said that security had been tightened in the area after the attack and search operations were ongoing.

“Unfortunately, the militants managed to escape after the attack,” he said.

Security officials have expressed concern over the growing number of attacks and the modern weapons being used by the militants.

TTP are using night-vision goggles and other advanced weaponry in their attacks. Such modern weapons were left behind by the US-led Afghan forces when the international coalition left Afghanistan in 2021.

Soon after the recent killing of 26 army soldiers in DI Khan, which borders Tank district, the militants released a video showing how they killed the army soldiers through sniper attacks.

Updated: December 15, 2023, 3:00 PM