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Afghans, Others Detained in Pakistan’s Security Crackdown

  • Ayaz Gul

Pakistani paramilitary soldier stand guard next to suspects arrested during a search operation in Shah Kass, an area of Pakistani Khyber tribal region along Afghan border, March 3, 2017.

Security forces in Pakistan have arrested dozens of suspects, including Afghans as part of an ongoing nationwide crackdown against extremist groups. The raids came as fresh militant attacks killed three security personnel.

Hundreds of suspects have been detained in the military-led crackdown that started when a string of suicide bombings across Pakistan left nearly 130 people, mostly civilians, dead in February.

The outlawed Pakistani Taliban and local affiliates of Islamic State claimed responsibility for the violence.

A military statement Friday said “joint search and intelligence-based operations” in several cities, including the national capital of Islamabad, rounded up 46 suspects, including 11 Afghan nationals, and also seized weapons and ammunition. It did not give further details.

Pakistan still hosts an estimated three million registered and undocumented Afghan refugees.

The latest arrests came on a day when Taliban militants assaulted outposts in the northwestern Khyber tribal district on the Afghan border, killing two paramilitary troops.

Arrested suspects and recovered weapons display for media by Pakistan paramilitary forces following a search operation in Shah Kass, an area of Pakistani Khyber tribal region along Afghan border, March 3, 2017.
Arrested suspects and recovered weapons display for media by Pakistan paramilitary forces following a search operation in Shah Kass, an area of Pakistani Khyber tribal region along Afghan border, March 3, 2017.

The army said the pre-dawn “terrorist” raid was launched from across the Afghan territory and retaliatory fire killed at least six retreating assailants.

Separately, a pair of suicide bombers armed with automatic weapons attacked a training center for the Frontier Constabulary security force, killing an officer and wounding two others.

The commandant of the institution, Liaquat Ali Khan, told reporters the bombers tried to sneak into the facility, which housed more than 70 recruits at the time, to "cause maximum casualties, but the guards quickly responded and neutralized both the assailants.” One of them was gunned down in the shootout. The other was killed when his suicide vest was hit and exploded during the gunfire, he added.

Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, an offshoot of the Pakistani Taliban, took credit for both the attacks.

Pakistan insists the militant group operates out of Afghan border areas and has repeatedly called on Kabul to take action against it.

Islamabad unilaterally closed Afghan border crossings after last month’s attacks and authorities said the restriction remains in place, though authorities have hinted at lifting it soon.

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