The Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) of Punjab police raided a militant hideout and killed six suspected members of the proscribed Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JA), the group that has launched a new campaign of violence in the country, police said on Thursday.
CTD said its officers surrounded a hideout of the JA, a breakaway faction of the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Multan late on Wednesday and ordered the suspects inside to surrender.
“But the terrorists started firing at the raiding party and threw explosives,” a spokesman for the department, who the unit does not identify for security reasons, said in a statement.
Six militants were killed while three or four escaped under cover of darkness, the department added. Two hand grenades, two automatic rifles and two pistols were recovered.
Police acted after getting information that the militants were planning to launch attacks on “vital installations” and the government in the area.
The militant faction claimed responsibility for a suicide bomb attack near the Punjab Assembly in Lahore on Monday that killed 14 people and wounded more than 80.
Since then, militants have killed two bomb-disposal officers in the Quetta and a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a government office in Mohmand Agency on Wednesday, killing five people.
Also on Wednesday, a suicide bomber on a motor bike attacked a group of judges in a van in Peshawar, killing their driver.
The attacks have underlined the threat militants pose to the government, despite an army offensive launched in 2014 to push them out of their strongholds near the Afghan border.
Pakistan’s foreign office said it had summoned Syed Abdul Nasir Yousafi, deputy head of mission at Afghanistan’s embassy in Islamabad, on Wednesday to voice concern about JA “sanctuaries” in Afghanistan.
Pakistan says militants launch attacks from the Afghan side of the border.
“Afghanistan was urged to take urgent measures to eliminate the terrorists and their sanctuaries, financiers and handlers,” the foreign office said in a statement.