10 Police Officers Killed Right Before Elections

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A police station in Dera Ismail Khan, a city in Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, was the target of a violent attack on February 5, 2024. The assailants, armed with rockets, firearms, and grenades, carried out the assault.

The deadly assault resulted in ten police officers’ deaths, while six others were injured. The attack came at a critical time, just days before the country’s scheduled parliamentary elections.

Although no immediate identification was made of the attackers, suspicions were quickly directed towards Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a proscribed group known for its regular attacks on the region’s security forces. The group operates in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, near the Afghan border.

Anees-ul-Hassan, a senior police officer, confirmed that a comprehensive search operation is in progress to find and arrest the perpetrators. As part of the operation, all routes leading to and from the district have been sealed off.

In a related development, a military facility in Dera Ismail Khan was the target of a violent raid in December. The Tehrik-e-Jihad Pakistan (TJP), believed to be a TTP splinter group, claimed responsibility for the attack, which utilized suicide bombers and highlighted the group’s serious threat.

The December attack was devastating, resulting in the deaths of 23 soldiers and causing injuries to many others. It marked one of the most severe military conflicts in Pakistan’s recent history.

In response to these attacks, Pakistani military and police forces have conducted operations that have led to the deaths of several insurgents. Despite these measures, the threat posed by militant groups, including Tehreek-e-Jihad Pakistan, remains a major concern.

Witnesses to the recent attack reported that it started with grenade detonations, followed by sniper fire, which resulted in the majority of the casualties. The conflict between the police and the militants lasted several hours before the attackers retreated with the arrival of reinforcements.

The surge in violence has been met with universal condemnation from government officials and political parties involved in the upcoming elections. Despite the heightened security risks, authorities have assured that the election process will continue as planned.

The assault is part of a growing wave of militant violence across Pakistan, with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province experiencing considerable attacks. In January 2023, a suicide bomber in Peshawar killed at least 101 people, mainly police officers, further highlighting the ongoing threat posed by extremist groups.

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