Attack on Loralai police office claims nine lives


–ISPR says three ‘suicide bombers’ killed in clearance operation 

LORALAI: At least nine people, including eight police staff and a civilian, were killed and over 20 injured when gunmen stormed the office of the deputy inspector general (DIG) of police in Loralai on Tuesday.

The militants targetted a recruitment test for police clerks being held at the police office with heavy firing, followed by an explosion.

In a statement shared with media, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Major Gen Asif Ghafoor confirmed the death toll, saying nine people, including three policemen, were martyred in the attack.

“Nine people including three policemen, five civil employees of police and one candidate were martyred, while 21 were injured. The injured include 12 policemen and nine civilian candidates,” Gen Ghafoor said. The injured have been shifted to CMH Quetta on Army helicopters, he added.

About 800 candidates were present in the compound for enrolment in Balochistan Police at the time of the attack, the ISPR statement said.

According to the army’s media wing, three “armed suicide bombers tried to enter the DIG police compound Loralai” when on duty police officials responded and fired at the three suicide bombers entering the gate. As a result, one of them detonated his suicide jacket at the entrance.

The other two managed to enter the building, firing indiscriminately.  However, the FC and army personnel were called in who, in a clearance operation, shot the assailants and cleared the area, the statement added.

Nobody has claimed the responsibility for the attack so far.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, while reacting on the incident, said on Tuesday that there was no room for terrorists or their facilitators in Pakistan. PM Khan strongly condemned the attack and praised the swift response of the security forces. He also prayed for the martyred and those injured in the attack. The prime minister added that the morale of Pakistan Army, police and the nation was high. “The state will fulfill its responsibility wherever terrorist elements try to raise their head,” he emphasised.

Punjab and Balochistan chief ministers, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari and Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari among others condemned the attack.

This is the second terror attack on a security installation in Loralai during the current month. On Jan 2, at least four Frontier Corps (FC) personnel were martyred and four terrorists were killed as FC training centre came under attack.

The attack, though repelled, had raised serious questions over the security situation in the country. Later, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan took credit for the terror bid.

Despite statistics showing a considerable drop in overall terrorism in Pakistan in the recent past, Balochistan has continued to experience violence, with considerable target attacks on police and law enforcement agencies. The province had the most number of fatalities at 407, followed by FATA (208) and Sindh (192). Of the 2,333 casualties in 2018, 1,131 were fatalities, down 45% from 2,047 the prior year.

The province has come repeatedly under attack by the religious terror outfits, such as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, and banned Baloch nationalist outfits. In addition, Islamic State has also gained a foothold in the province, claiming responsibility for the deadliest attack during the election campaign that had claimed over 130 lives.