Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif gave the go-ahead for a military clean-up in his province as Pakistani security forces continued to hunt, arrest and kill militants across the country. The move came on Sunday after a meeting between Sharif and military commanders in Lahore.
As many as 130 suspected terrorists have been killed and more than 350 people arrested across Pakistan in the last three days.
Pakistani’s counter-terrorism forces killed five militants in an overnight raid and seized weapons and explosives from their hideout in Punjab province, while more than 300 people, mostly Afghans, were arrested in the region as part of heightened security measures following a suicide bombing at Lal Shahbaz Qalandar Sufi shrine in Sindh province that claimed 88 lives last week, Punjab police spokesman Niyab Haider said.
Haider said the militants opened fire when the police raided their hideout. Five militants were killed in the ensuing firefight, while four escaped. He said maps recovered from the raid show the gang was planning attacks on shrines and an air base in Multan.
At least 11 Afghan terrorists were also killed in the country’s restive northwest tribal region during a gun battle with the security forces, security officials said on Sunday. During the gunfight with the terrorists at Sapperkot and Para Chamkani in Kurram Agency, at least two soldiers were also wounded. The terrorists were trying to enter Kurram Agency via Khyber Agency from Afghanistan when they were intercepted by the security forces and heavy exchange of fire took place, officials said.
The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) claimed on Saturday that the army targeted a training camp of Jamaat-ul-Ahrar — the banned terror group which had claimed responsibility for the February 13 suicide bombing in Lahore and another suicide attack on the headquarters of the Mohmand Agency’s political administration on February 15.
The camp was located near the Pak-Afghan border in areas adjacent to Mohmand and Khyber Agency, and was reportedly overseen by Jamaat-ul-Ahrar’s deputy commander Adil Bacha. The group on Sunday claimed that both Adil Bacha and Abdul Rahman Baba, leaders of the JuA were alive.
SHOOT-AT-SIGHT ORDERS OVER ILLEGAL ENTRY INTO PAKISTAN
Meanwhile, as Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan at Chaman remains closed for the third consecutive day on Sunday, authorities issued shoot-at-sight orders for those found trying to cross over. The Friendship Gate was closed on Friday as part of tightening security in the wake of the suicide attack on the shrine in Sehwan. As a result, traffic and transit trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan also remained suspended.
A spokesman for the Punjab police said the CTD, police and intelligence were focusing on intelligence-based search operations to get maximum results from it, while all the arrested suspects were shifted to some undisclosed location for further interrogation. He said the deployment at all sensitive government installations had been increased and the operation in and around localities of shrines in the province was also being conducted.
(With agency inputs)