Pakistan: Terrorized Police In KP – Analysis

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By Tushar Ranjan Mohanty*

On November 15, 2022, six Policemen, including an assistant sub-inspector, were killed when two terrorists on a motorcycle opened fire on a Police patrol near a fair in the Dadiwala Police Station area of Lakki Marwat District in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack. TTP ‘spokesperson’ Muhammad Khurasani said the Police patrol was ambushed while it was on its way to carry out a raid in the area. The militants snatched Police weapons before fleeing, Muhammad Khurasani added. 

On November 9, 2022, two Policemen were killed and another two sustained injuries when terrorists armed with rockets and grenades attacked the Zaghzai Police Station in the Barmal tehsil (revenue unit) of South Waziristan District in KP. According to the Police, terrorists killed Hameedullah and Farmanullah, set fire to a Police vehicle, and took away Police weapons while escaping. TTP claimed responsibility for the attack. TTP ‘spokesperson’ Muhammad Khurasani asserted that Army troops were their main target and warned the Police to avoid confronting TTP cadres. 

On October 30, a Policeman and a civilian were killed and four Policemen were injured, as terrorists attacked the Daraban Police check post in the Dera Ismail Khan District of KP. 

According to partial data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), 63 Policemen have been killed and another 50 injured in 49 incidents of terrorist attack on the Police in 2022 (data till November 27, 2022). During the corresponding period of previous year, 23 Policemen were killed and another 13 were injured in 21 terrorist incidents. Through 2021, in 24 incidents, 25 Policemen were killed and 14 were injured. Since march 6, when SATP started compiling data on terrorism in Pakistan, at least 812 policemen have been killed and 989 injured in 651 attacks targeting policemen. Attacks on Police in KP: 2000*-2022*

YearsIncidentsIncidentsInjured
2000000
2001110
2002102
2003110
20044011
2005000
20066113
2007344167
200870107117
200971107127
2010344983
2011536899
2012576099
20138210675
2014545485
2015313744
2016383148
2017101623
201881213
2019131716
202010613
2021242514
2022496350
Total651651989
Source: SATP, *March 6, 2000; **Data till November 27, 2022

As the data suggests, there has been a significant surge in attacks on policemen in the current year, with 2022 recording the highest tally in a year, with over a month still to go, since 2014, when there were 54 incidents. Also, in terms of policemen killed in such attacks, 2022 is the highest in a year since 2013, when there were 106 fatalities, the highest in a year since 2007 and 2008, each of which recorded 207 Police fatalities. 

Though not every attack has been claimed, it is well established that the TTP has a strong base in KP and most of the attacks have been carried out by the outfit. Indeed, on September 4, 2022, TTP ‘spokesperson’ Muhammad Khurasani claimed responsibility for three recent attacks on the Police: the killing of a Police official in Lakki Marwat [September 4], an attack on a police constable in Dera Ismail Khan [September 2], and an attack in Peshawar that had claimed the life of one security official and left three others injured [August 10]. 

Meanwhile, according to a report issued by the Central Police Office on November 19, 2022, as many as 105 Policemen have been killed in 151 militant attacks in 2022 across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). A total of 109 Policemen sustained injuries in these attacks. The report added that the weapons left behind by NATO forces in Afghanistan were being used against KP Police, including thermal imaging devices which enabled the terrorists to stage surprise attacks under the cover of darkness. “These attacks were carried out by militants released from prisons after the fall of Kabul last year,” adds the report. The most frequent militant target were the police mobile vehicles, the report added. Quoting an unnamed senior KP security officer, the report noted that the mud-layered checkpoints in the tribal District, including Dera Ismail Khan, Lakki Marwat, Bannu, Tank, and South and North Waziristan, were under serious security risk. 

TTP has restarted making deep roads inside KP since the Afghan Taliban returned to power in Kabul on August 15, 2021. The talks between TTP and the Government, mediated by the Afghan Taliban, which started on May 1, 2022, meanwhile, have all but collapsed. 

Indeed, Aimal Wali Khan, the KP President of the Awami National Party (ANP), which was in Government during the KP’s troubled years (2008-2013), warned on September 22, 2021, that a new wave of terrorism was emerging, and that it would engulf the entire country if not controlled at the present stage. “The terrorists are regrouping in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” Aimal Wali Khan declared. He asked the Government to contain the spread of extremism and terrorism, and added that a failure to take concrete steps would send the message that the Government or state institutions were party to the violence. Currently, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is in power in the Province. 

As the TTP was engaged in peace talks, other groups that were associated with the outfit also came to the fore, launching attacks on Policemen in the province, most prominently including the Ittehad Musallah Islami Mujahideen (IMAM). Some of the attacks on Policemen claimed by IMAM include: 

On July 22, 2022, suspected IMAM militants opened fire on a police patrol van, leaving two persons injured, including a policeman, at Khwar Bazaar in the Akora Khattak area of Nowshera District in KP. 

On July 16, 2022, IMAM militants killed District Police Officer Gul Rehman near his residence in the Lakki Machan Khel area of Lakki Marwat District in KP. 

In addition to TTP and its associated groups, the Islamic State-Khorasan Province (IS-KP) has emerged as another threat to Policemen in KP since the Taliban’s return to Kabul. IS-KP has since claimed responsibility of two attacks on Policemen. On August 19, 2022, two policemen, Havaldar Saeed Ahmad and Sepoy Inayatur Rahman, were killed in an explosion carried out by IS-KP near a check post in Bajaur District. On July 16, 2022, IS-KP terrorists attacked and killed two persons, including a policeman, at a check post in the Arjali Nadi locality of Bara in the Khyber District of KP. 

Unsurprisingly, other branches of the Security Forces (SF) have also witnessed surge in terms of fatalities and attacks. According to the SATP database, KP has recorded at least 148 SF fatalities (including policemen) so far in 2022, the highest in a year since 2013 when 181 SF fatalities (including policemen) were reported. KP recorded a peak of 494 SF fatalities (including Policemen) in 2009. 

Policemen in KP, along with other branches of SFs deployed in the Province, are under increased threat from terrorists, in particular from TTP. With the talks between the TTP and the Government nearing a formal collapse, such attacks are bound to increase in the days to come.

*Tushar Ranjan Mohanty
Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management

SATP

SATP, or the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP) publishes the South Asia Intelligence Review, and is a product of The Institute for Conflict Management, a non-Profit Society set up in 1997 in New Delhi, and which is committed to the continuous evaluation and resolution of problems of internal security in South Asia. The Institute was set up on the initiative of, and is presently headed by, its President, Mr. K.P.S. Gill, IPS (Retd).

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