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Five Pakistani soldiers killed as spring offensive with TTP fingerprints gathers steam

Scene of attack at Lakki Marwat (Photo: Shabbir Hussain Turi/Twitter)

At least four Pakistani security force personnel are believed to have been killed and seven injured in a suicide bombing followed by a gun and bomb attack on a military camp in Lakki Marwat of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Thursday night.

Pakistani journalist Shabbir Hussain Turi said on his Twitter handle that four terrorists including a suicide bomber were killed in retaliatory action. Quoting sources, Turi said that security personnel are afraid of many more casualties because of these attacks.

Five to six simultaneous attacks took place on Pakistani military camps in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Thursday night. The attackers are believed to be from a newly-formed outfit called the Tehreek-e-Jihad Pakistan (TJP), known to be affiliated to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

The security forces, which had been camping in the Government Post Graduate College in Lakki Marwat came under heavy gunfire and bomb attacks. Neither the Pakistani government nor the military has issued information regarding the attacks or the casualties. The Pakistani chief of the army staff Gen. Asim Munir is in Beijing on a four-day visit.

The government had recently moved the military to the region in an effort to root out the TTP cadres.

Authorities have imposed an emergency in all hospitals in the district and staff has been directed to reach the hospitals. Doctors and paramedics have been put on alert.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which lies on a perpetually-tense border with Afghanistan, has witnessed increasing violence after the Taliban took over in Kabul in August 2021. Under former prime minister Imran Khan’s reign, Islamabad had tried making peace with the Taliban militants who, after having achieved their goals in Afghanistan, had begun settling down in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with the idea of establishing a Sharia region for themselves.

Khan’s strategy backfired as the Taliban militants began imposing their will in Pakistan and indulged in wanton violence.

However, as the Pashtun masses in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa began opposing the Taliban cadre, relations between Pakistan and the Taliban deteriorated and the TTP, also known as the Pakistani Taliban, began targeting Pakistani security forces. Of the multiple attacks, the most brazen was on a Peshawar mosque in the high-security police lines in Peshawar, the capital of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which took the lives of over 100 people – mostly policemen.

This is the second big attack in just a week in the region. Earlier this week on April 24, a possible suicide attack on Pakistan’s Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) police station in Swat killed at least 12 policemen and injured more than 40. Pakistan later said that the blasts took place due to explosions in the stored munitions which also contained mortar shells.

Also read: How the TTP bleeds Pakistan with a thousand cuts