MAMOSA Report — Pakistan Army stepped up action against militants following the recent wave of terrorist attacks across the country, and destroyed four training camps of Jamaatul Ahrar, a breakaway faction of the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border late Friday night.
Various sources reported that a special counter-insurgency unit of the army had gone across the western border where they eliminated terrorists’ hideouts — an euphemism for ‘surgical strike’.
The outlawed group maintains safe havens across the border in Afghanistan. Military officials blamed Afghanistan for harboring Pakistani Taliban militants in its territory.
According to sources cited by Express Tribune, the terrorists were targeted and taken out on the opposite side of the Mohmand and Khyber agencies.
The camp of Jamaatul Ahrar deputy commander Adil Bacha and a training compound of the group was decimated, sources told local media, adding that there were reports of casualties as well.
Jamaat-ul-Ahrar had claimed responsibility for the repeated acts of terrorism (8 blasts in 5 days) across the country in the past few days. Thirteen people were killed and 85 injured when a suicide blast shook Lahore’s Mall Road on Monday. The bombing, one of eight deadly attacks this week, has left Pakistan’s leadership shaken, The New York Times reported.
“It is a very ugly development,” said Afrasiab Khattak, an opposition politician and newspaper columnist. “The timing and the scale of the targets suggests it is a big plan to destabilize Pakistan.”
Terror has now hit all 4 provinces and 3 major urban centers in a span of just 4 days. That is truly alarming, tweeted South Asia analyst Michael Kugelman. “It’s easy to kill terrorists, but so much harder to kill the ideologies that drive them.,” he added.
Senior Pakistani security officials also implicated archrival India, suggesting that an Indian intelligence agency (RAW) may have been behind the attack to scuttle cooperation between Pakistan and China for the $56 billion economic corridor.
Some officials, however, said the threat posed by the Islamic State could not be ignored. “The soft U-turn Pakistan has been making towards a more tolerant and pluralist society is marginalizing these groups,” said one human rights activist.
“At a time when space is shrinking for the Islamic State in the Middle East, it is trying to establish itself in this region,” Mr. Khattak, the opposition politician, said. “There are many groups here that are aligned with its ideology.”
The military action Friday night came hours after army chief General Qamar Bajwa said terrorists from Afghanistan were carrying out attacks in Pakistan with impunity, adding that “such terrorist activities and inaction against them are testing our current policy of cross-border restraint”.
The army chief met US General John Nicholson, commander of Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan earlier in the day.
General Bajwa said most of the incidents of terrorism in Pakistan are claimed by terrorist organisations with their leadership hiding in Afghanistan.
He asked the commander of the Resolute Support Mission (RSM) to play his role in “disconnecting this planning, direction, coordination and financial support”.
During the conversation with Nicholson, Bajwa also informed him of the list of 76 terrorists handed over to Afghan authorities earlier on Friday.
The military’s media wing also claimed to have killed more than 100 suspected militants in intelligence-based operations carried out by security forces across the country, including Punjab, in the past 24 hours.