Two Pakistan intelligence officers gunned down in Punjab province

Slain officers were known for their work tracking down members of Pakistan’s Taliban and solving complex armed attacks.

Punjab map
Map of Punjab region of Pakistan

A gunman has shot and killed two officers with Pakistan’s intelligence service outside a roadside restaurant in the east of the country, police and security officials said.

Murtaza Bhatti, a senior police officer in the Punjab province’s district of Khanewal, said the attack on Tuesday took place as the two officers were parking their vehicle.

No one has claimed responsibility for killing the officers, who were known for arresting members of the Pakistani Taliban and other armed groups. They were also known for their expertise in investigating and solving complicated cases, including gun and bomb attacks in Pakistan.

Officials said one of the slain officers was the director of the provincial counterterrorism department, which has played a key role in arresting members of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, also known as Pakistani Taliban.

The armed group has stepped up attacks on security forces in recent months after unilaterally ending a ceasefire with the Pakistan government in November.

The Pakistani Taliban are separate but allied with the Afghan Taliban, who seized power in neighbouring Afghanistan in 2021 following the withdrawal of NATO and United States troops after 20 years of conflict.

Pakistan’s Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif said on Monday that a recent “wave of terrorist attacks” in Pakistan was coming from Pakistani Taliban hiding in Afghanistan. He asked Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers to stop such fighters from using their soil for attacks in Pakistan.

On Tuesday, Afghan Taliban’s chief spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said Afghanistan wanted good relations with all its neighbouring countries, including Pakistan. But he also asked Islamabad to refrain from making provocative statements that can lead to mistrust.

“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan values peace and stability in its country, it wants peace and stability for the whole region and continues its efforts in this way,” he said.

He said the “Islamic Emirate is trying its best to ensure that Afghanistan’s territory is not used against Pakistan or any other country”.

Source: The Associated Press