ISLAMABAD -- The ongoing crackdown on the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria"'s Khorasan branch (ISIS-K) has degraded the terror group's ability to carry out attacks on security forces.
In desperation, the weakened group now targets members of vulnerable minority communities, officials and analysts say.
"In Pakistan, ISIS-K regularly targets vulnerable non-Muslim communities, particularly Sikhs, and Muslim minority sects, mainly Shia and Sufis," said Imran Noshad Khan, an Islamabad-based activist working on interfaith harmony in Pakistan.
ISIS-K through its publications also instigates sectarian strife in the country, he said.
"Targeting weak and vulnerable communities such as Sikhs, Sufis and Shia shows that the ongoing crackdown on ISIS-K has reduced the group's ability to hit major targets, such as security forces," Khan said.
In a meeting with leaders of Peshawar's Sikh community on Monday (June 26), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) governor Haji Ghulam Ali ordered the relevant authorities to make special arrangements for security and install closed circuit TV cameras in the residential and business areas of the Sikh community.
"Since 2008, 35 members of the Sikh community have been killed in various incidents of terrorism in the province," Ali said.
Manmohan Singh, a Sikh trader, was fatally shot in Peshawar last Saturday. A day earlier, another Sikh was shot and injured in the Dabgari area of Peshawar.
In April, a Sikh was fatally shot in his shop in Dir Colony in Peshawar. Attacks on Sikhs were also reported near Kohat Adda and Sarband last year.
In March 2022, ISIS-K carried out a suicide attack on a Shia mosque in Peshawar that killed more than 64 worshippers.
ISIS-K also claimed responsibility for the June 2022 attack on a Sikh temple in Kabul, Afghanistan, killing two people and injuring dozens of others.
Following an uptick in terror attacks, Pakistani authorities intensified their crackdown on ISIS-K across the country.
On Wednesday, Pakistani law enforcement agencies killed an ISIS-K commander and two other militants during a raid on their hideout near the border with Afghanistan, according to the military.
Shafi Ullah, an ISIS-K commander in Bajaur, KP, was one of those killed. He was wanted in connection with several terror cases, including attacks on security forces and the killing of civilians. The government had placed a bounty of 2 million PKR ($7,000) on his head.
On Tuesday, the Punjab Police Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) said it had foiled a major terror plot on Eid ul Adha by arresting nine suspected militants, including a woman, linked with ISIS-K.
The arrests were made after officers raided locations in Multan, Bahawalpur and Dera Ghazi Khan.
"Among the nine militants arrested from various districts of the province, five, including a woman, belonged to ISIS-K," a CTD spokesperson told Pakistan Forward.
"They were planning to carry out terror attacks in the province and target government installations and religious places," he said.
The KP Police CTD on June 6 said law enforcement officers had killed Subhanullah alias Usman, an ISIS-K commander, in an operation in Bajaur district.
Subhanullah was wanted in several terror cases, including attacks on security forces and police personnel, said Amjad Khan, a senior CTD official.