PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — Militants in Pakistan targeted the country’s police force in two attacks in a volatile northwestern province on Thursday, killing four officers and wounding six, officials said. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for both attacks.
In one attack, police say a roadside bomb struck a vehicle carrying officers, killing four of them. The officers were reinforcements responding to an attack earlier in the day on a police station in Lakki Marwat, a town in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan. Six officers were wounded in the attack on the station.
Local police officer Ashfaq Khan said a search was underway for the attackers. Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif condemned the attack, saying he was saddened by the “martyrdom” of the targeted officers.
“The sacrifices of our police officers in the war against terrorism are unforgettable,” he said.
The Pakistani Taliban said in a statement that one of the slain officers, Iqbal Mohmand, was targeted because he was behind the arrest and killing of some of their fighters.
The militant group is known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP, and is separate but allied with Afghanistan’s Taliban. There has been an increase in attacks by the Pakistani Taliban since they unilaterally ended a cease-fire with the government.
TTP has been emboldened since the Afghan Taliban seized power in Afghanistan in 2021 when U.S. and NATO troops were leaving the country after 20 years of war. Many TTP leaders and fighters have found sanctuaries in Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover there.
The latest violence comes days after Pakistan’s elections oversight body delayed legislative elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces due to a spike in militant attacks and the government’s refusal to provide the necessary funds, security forces and polling staff. The government cited financial constraints as the reason.
The elections, which were to be held on April 30, have been postponed to Oct. 8.
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