Islamabad, Feb 14 (EFE).- Seven suspected Taliban militants, including three under-trial prisoners, were killed in a gun battle after insurgents opened fire on security forces in the restive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan, police said on Tuesday.
A police statement said the three under-custody suspects were being taken from Miranshah to Bannu when a group of militants opened fire at the security forces near Mir Ali Bypass to free their accomplices.
“In the exchange of fire, four terrorists of (the) banned outfit (Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan) were killed while five to six, taking advantage of darkness and bushes, escaped,” the police statement said.
The police claimed that the three suspects died of bullets fired by the assailants.
The four insurgents who attacked the security personnel belonged to Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, the police said.
The police alleged that the slain militants were involved in targeted killings and grenade attacks on security forces.
The security forces launched a search operation to track down the escaped militants.
Security forces usually transport high-value militants from one place to another in daylight to avoid nocturnal insurgent attacks.
The TTP has, in the past, accused Pakistani forces of committing extrajudicial killings by staging shootouts.
Militant attacks across the country have increased — especially in the northern and north-western parts of the country — since the end of the ceasefire by the TTP in November last year after talks between the militant group and the government broke down.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the northwest and Balochistan in the south bordering Afghanistan have been the worst affected by a wave of attacks.
In response, the Pakistani government has strengthened security in the capital and increased operations against the TTP.
The TTP is an umbrella group of several armed organizations formed in 2007 to establish an Islamic state in Pakistan.
Since its inception, the group has carried out a brutal campaign of attacks across the country and killed thousands of people, including an assassination attempt on Nobel peace-winning activist Malala Yousafzai in 2012.
The Pakistani Taliban intensified its activities in Pakistan after the Afghan Taliban seized power in Kabul in August 2021.
According to Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies, January remained one of the deadliest months since July 2018, in which 134 people lost their lives in at least 44 militant attacks across the country. EFE