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Pakistani police under attack across country
TTP, Mangal Bagh-led LI blamed for violence
By Javed Aziz Khan
PESHAWAR – Three successive attacks on police in as many days in Peshawar, as well as increased assaults in other parts of the country during the past week, have set alarm bells ringing.
Since July 6, a number of senior officers and frontline policemen have been killed. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Mangal Bagh-led Lashkar-e-Islam are behind the attacks, officials suspect.
“Whenever police and other security forces go for action, ... (the militants) retaliate with attacking police,” Deputy Inspector General of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Syed Imtiaz Shah told Central Asia Online.
Recent attacks on police
Peshawar is especially dangerous. The city is surrounded on three sides by the tribal areas, where military operations are on-going.
“On July 6, a sub-inspector was killed and three cops were wounded in a remote-control bombing ... in the Daudzai area of Peshawar,” said Jalaluddin, deputy spokesman for the Peshawar police.
Police Constable Samin Khan was killed and three others were wounded by a roadside bomb along the Peshawar Ring Road the next day, and the First Information Report, lodged in Pishtakhara Police Station, identifies Mangal Bagh and his five commanders as suspects.
The attacks continued July 9 when two armed motorcyclists killed an assistant sub-inspector of the Bhanamari Police Station in the Khazana area on Charsadda Road.
A security post in Matani came under attack July 10, but no casualties were reported and the police arrested a suspect, identified only as Atlas.
Police in other parts of KP also have come under fire.
Kohat Station House Officer Armani Gul was killed and three of his men were wounded in a July 8 encounter with militants in Jarma, Kohat. One of the attackers was killed.
The same day a sub-inspector, Mohammad Rafiq, was killed in Khuzdar District and a policeman and a civilian were killed in Attock Province, Punjab.
The next day, another attack in Gujrat District, Punjab, killed one policeman and seven soldiers.
TTP spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan has claimed responsibility for the Gujrat attack.
Police said they are also investigating whether the Dr. Arshad group of militants was involved in that case, since authorities arrested of the group’s suspected high-profile leaders a few days before earlier.
Statistics on dead policemen
Nationwide statistics for police who have been killed were not available, but some isolated figures indicate the breadth of the problem.
Punjab has lost about 24 policemen this year, police said.
At least 25 police and one Frontier Corps (FC) soldier have been killed in KP this year. Most of the police deaths, 21, were in Peshawar, said Qaisar Khan, who covers violent crime and terrorism for the local Urdu daily, Aaj.
The problem is especially challenging because no one group is behind the violence, he said. “Many groups are involved in attacks on police in the last few days,” Khan said. “The criminal gangs are also taking advantage of the situation to settle scores with police.”
Effect of attacks
The spate of attacks is creating concern among ordinary citizens and officials who have condemned the killings.
“Not only the Pashtun people, but also the KP police has sacrificed the most during the years-long war on terror,” said Ahmad Gul, a Sarband resident who said a number of other residents have had to flee to safer parts of Peshawar. “Still one never knows when their vehicle will be hit by any roadside bomb despite they are alert and their fingers are on triggers of their weapons.”
Gul praised police for bravely thwarting terrorist attacks every day. “Not only constables, but Peshawar and KP have sacrificed their most decorated officers as well,” he said.
Those killed during the past five years include two chiefs of the Peshawar police, Safwat Ghayur and Malik Mohammad Saad. Ghayur had been elevated to FC commandant when he was killed in a Peshawar suicide attack in August 2010. Saad was serving as chief of the Peshawar police when he was killed in the first suicide bombing in the city in January 2007.
KP Chief Minister Ameer Haider Hoti condemned the attacks on police but said the sacrifices of the policemen are not in vain.
“Attacks cannot discourage the rest of the force,” Hoti said in a statement following the continual attacks on police. “The brave Khyber Pakhtunkhwa cops are committed to protect the lives, property and honour of the public.”
“We are not going to leave the families of the martyrs alone,” he said. “They will be supported by the government.”