An armed assault on a police station in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province’s Dera Ismail Khan in northwestern Pakistan took place on Monday, February 5, 2024. The assailants used rockets, firearms, and grenades in the attack.
The deadly attack led to the fatalities of 10 police officers, and six others suffered injuries. The incident occurred a few days before scheduled parliamentary elections in the country, raising concerns about the timing.
The identity of the attackers remains unknown, but the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a proscribed group notorious for frequent attacks on regional security forces, is under suspicion. The group is known to operate in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, bordering Afghanistan.
Senior police officer Anees-ul-Hassan has confirmed that an extensive search operation is in progress to locate and capture the attackers. The district’s entry and exit points have been sealed off.
Last December, a violent raid was carried out on a military facility in Dera Ismail Khan, attributed to the Tehrik-e-Jihad Pakistan (TJP), believed to be a splinter group of the TTP. This faction, which claimed responsibility for the attack, used suicide bombers, indicating the severe threat they present.
The December assault led to the deaths of 23 soldiers and severe injuries to several others, marking one of the most drastic military confrontations in Pakistan’s recent history. Since then, the Pakistani military and police forces have launched operations that have resulted in the deaths of numerous insurgents.
Nonetheless, the threat posed by militant groups, including the Tehreek-e-Jihad Pakistan, persists. Eyewitnesses recount that the recent attack started with grenade explosions, followed by sniper fire, causing most of the casualties. The fighting between the police and the militants lasted for several hours, with the attackers retreating upon the arrival of reinforcements.
Government officials and political parties participating in the upcoming elections have universally condemned this recent surge in violence. Despite the heightened security risks, authorities assured that the election process would proceed as planned.
This assault is part of a broader pattern of escalating militant violence across Pakistan, with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province being notably affected. In January 2023, a suicide bomber killed at least 101 people in Peshawar, the majority of whom were police officers, demonstrating the continual threat posed by extremist groups.