At least six policeman have been killed, and 24 people taken hostage, by Pakistani gangsters, during a raid in the south of country’s Punjab region.
Pakistani gangsters on Thursday killed six policemen and took hostage 24 people, including police, during a raid to clear an island hideout in the south of prosperous Punjab province, authorities said.
The operation to flush out the gangsters entered its ninth day as 1,600 security officials, including police officials and paramilitary Rangers, battled for control of the island in Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s power base of Punjab.
“Police killed four top criminals of Chotu Gang and wounded eight, while six police officials are dead and seven injured,” Punjab police spokeswoman Nabeela Ghazanfar told Reuters.
“The gang has held 24 persons hostage, including police officials. We are not sure how many civilian and police officials are among the hostages.”
Authorities suspect the gang is behind hundreds of cases of kidnapping for ransom, murder and robberies.
“It is a very difficult operation, because the gang has made its hideout on a small island, surrounded by water and dense jungle,” Ghazanfar added.
Authorities identified the leader of the gang as Ghulam Rasool, also known as Chotu, who is active in the border areas of the provinces of Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan. Pakistan launched an armed crackdown in Punjab after an Easter Day bombing in the eastern city of Lahore killed 72 people last month.