DERA GHAZI KHAN: Eight suspected militants and an official of the security forces were killed on Saturday during an ongoing combing operation in the mountainous tribal area of Rajanpur along the border between Punjab and Balochistan.
According to the ISPR, the military’s public relations wing, the security forces were carrying out the combing operation in the Gayandari area on the provincial border. Several ‘feraris’ (fugitives) had been arrested and arms and ammunition seized from them, it said.
When contacted, the Rajanpur district coordination officer, who is the senior commandant of the border military police, said the operation against anti-state elements was under way in the tribal area, but he was not authorised to give more details.
The border military police and the Rangers are jointly conducting the operation.
Rajanpur District Police Officer Irfanullah Khan said his department was not taking part in the operation.
It was not clear as to when the operation was launched.
Some people living close to the area claimed that the security forces were using helicopter gunships to evict the militants from their mountainous hideouts.
A military operation was carried out in April in the riverine area of Rajanpur in the aftermath of the killing of seven policemen and kidnapping of 24 others by the ‘Chotoo gang’ of bandits.
Later, its ringleader Ghulam Rasool Chotoo surrendered along with his 15 accomplices to the military authorities in the Kacha Jamal area.
After the last month’s bomb explosion in Quetta in which a large number of lawyers lost their lives, Chief of Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif held a meeting where it was decided that combing operations would be carried out to eliminate those involved in the attack.
The Punjab government has sought the deployment of Rangers in the province for two months to assist the police and their counterterrorism department.
A summary in this regard has been sent to the chief minister and will be forwarded to the interior minister for approval and deployment of Rangers through the provincial apex committee coordinating the implementation of the National Action Plan against terrorism.
A resident of the Gorchani tribal area told Dawn that Gayandari was located between the Bugti and Mazari areas along the provincial border. He said local rumours had been circulating about the presence of hideouts of Baloch fugitives in the area.
He said reports of shelling on the hideouts were also circulating in the tribal area of Rajanpur.