Roving Periscope: Terrorists kill 10 police officers as Pakistan hurtles into Feb 8 polls
New Delhi: Amid socio-economic and political conflagrations, and the February 8 elections to the National Assembly, terrorists struck a police station in northwest Pakistan on Monday, killing at least 10 police officers.
More than 30 terrorists attacked the police station early morning and, after an hours-long assault, killed the police officers, the media reported.
Four others were injured in the two-and-a-half-hour battle, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police told reporters.
It is not clear who was behind the attack, or if it is related to the election being held on Thursday.
Pakistan has seen a sudden spurt of violence over the last few weeks. A candidate for the National Assembly polls was shot dead in another part of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) last Wednesday.
However, K-P has a long history of terror strikes on government and security targets, as well as civilians, by gangs like Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTK), Islamic State, and others.
Quoting Akhtar Hayat Gandapur, the regional police chief, the reports said the terrorists launched the attacks at about 03:00 local time Monday, first with sniper fire, followed by grenades.
The terrorists attacked from three different directions, and briefly had control of the police station, he added.
The specter of violence is already hanging over Pakistan’s voters on Thursday, with the Election Commission of Pakistan categorizing half of the country’s 90,675 polling stations as either “sensitive,” with a risk of violence, or “most sensitive,” indicating a higher risk. The classifications are based on the region’s security situation and history of electoral violence.
The issue is also at the forefront of voters’ minds amid recent rises in attacks and counter-attacks.
According to the Islamabad-based Center for Research and Security Studies (CRSS), the year 2023 saw the number of violent incidents across the country increase for the third year in a row, with the most recorded fatalities – including security forces, militants, and civilians – since 2017.
K-P had the highest number overall, with some 458 attacks and counter-terrorism operations during the year, leading to almost 1,000 deaths.
The restive province’s southern region was facing a “severe threat,” as terrorists
were beginning “to blend in with civilian populations in urban areas, making it difficult to conduct operations against them,” the report said.
Last week in Baluchistan, a province in Pakistan’s southwest with the second highest number of attacks and fatalities last year, a political leader was shot dead in his party’s election office and a bomb attack following a political rally killed at least four people. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for that attack.
The security forces also killed 24 terrorists in an anti-terror operation in Baluchistan last week.