Pakistani police officer killed in gun battle with local Taliban
A police officer was killed and two others injured in a shootout with Pakistan’s Taliban in Islamabad, officials said Tuesday, a rare attack by the militants in the heavily guarded capital.
The Monday night firefight started when two gunmen of the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan(TTP) opened fire from a motorbike on a police checkpoint in central Islamabad.
“A policeman was martyred while two others were wounded,” the police said in a statement, adding that both attackers were killed.
The TTP — a home-grown Pakistani movement that shares common roots with the Afghan Taliban — claimed responsibility for the ambush.
“We are proud of these heroes, and our fighters will continue to follow in their footsteps,” the group said in a statement.
Pakistan’s interior minister warned of the potential for further attacks in the capital — home to dozens of embassies — where security has improved in recent years.
“It is a signal that terrorist activities have started in Islamabad,” Sheikh Rashid Ahmed told reporters.
“It is the first terrorist incident of this year and we need to say alert,” he added.
Pakistan’s government announced late last year it had entered a month-long truce with the TTP, facilitated by Afghanistan’s Taliban, but that expired on December 9 after peace talks failed to make progress.
The TTP has been blamed for hundreds of suicide bomb attacks and kidnappings across the country, and for awhile held sway over vast tracts of the country’s rugged tribal belt, imposing a radical version of Islamic law.
But after the 2014 massacre of nearly 150 children at a Peshawar school, the Pakistan military sent huge numbers of troops into TTP strongholds and crushed the movement, forcing its fighters to retreat to Afghanistan.