KARACHI -- Police on Monday (March 13) said they killed two "masterminds" of a February attack on the Karachi Police Office (KPO) and arrested two other suspects affiliated with Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
Following the February 17 attack, the Sindh Counter Terrorism Department (CTD), federal intelligence and other agencies formed a joint team to track down and break the network behind it, said Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon.
Four people were killed and 19 injured when a TTP suicide squad stormed the police compound in Karachi in February, according to Sindh government spokesman Murtaza Wahab.
One the three attackers blew himself up on the building's fourth floor, while two others were shot dead on the roof.
The special joint team located suspects wanted in connection with the attack in an area between the port city of Karachi and Hub, Balochistan.
"This network had provided help, planning and reconnaissance to the KPO terrorists," Memon said.
On Sunday night, the CTD and other law enforcement agencies received a tip that members of the network would enter Karachi via Hub, Dawn reported.
When the four suspects arrived, the CTD team in place ordered them to stop.
Instead, the suspects opened fire. Two militants were killed in the ensuing gunfight, and two others surrendered.
Authorities recovered and defused a suicide jacket from the suspects.
"Both killed militants were masterminds of the KPO attack," Memon said.
"The held suspects have revealed that they and their killed accomplices belonged to the banned TTP," he added.
TTP attack on police
Attacks have been on the rise in Pakistan since political changes in Afghanistan in August 2021, emboldening militant groups along the border that have increasingly targeted security forces.
On Monday, two Pakistani policemen were killed as they guarded teams collecting census data in separate attacks claimed by the TTP, police said.
Two teams were attacked in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province, in separate districts near the border with Afghanistan.
Pakistan started a month-long digital census at the beginning of March with security personnel deployed alongside more than 120,000 enumerators.
The census is gathering demographic data ahead of parliamentary elections.
"Gunmen attacked the police party responsible for supervising the security of the census team from two directions," said Farooq Khan, a police official in Tank district, KP.
One officer was killed and four were wounded, he said.
Later in the evening, the Pakistani military reported that one militant had been killed in an "intense exchange of fire".
In the other attack, men on a motorbike opened fire on police, killing one and wounding three.
"The security measures were further intensified, and the census process was resumed," said Lakki Marwat district administration official Tariq Ullah.
The attacks follow a similar assault last week in the same region that left an officer dead.
The TTP claimed all three attacks.
"Our primary target is the police, regardless of whether they are escorting politicians, polio teams or census teams," a TTP commander said.
On March 6, a suicide bomber killed nine people and wounded 13 others in an attack on a Balochistan constabulary van, with the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) later claiming responsibility.
In January, more than 80 officers were killed and over 100 injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up at a mosque inside a police compound in Peshawar.