DI KHAN: Troops supported by armoured vehicles and helicopter gunships carried out a major ground offensive on Saturday in Kacha Jamal and Kacha Moro areas of South Punjab’s Rajanpur district as the ongoing operation against criminal gangs entered its 26th day.
The areas resounded with shelling as both security forces and criminal gangs reportedly used modern artillery. There were reports that the criminal gangs had suffered heavy causalities as the security forces, led by Pakistan Army, called 10 more boats to pick up the dead and injured dacoits.
Gunships pound remaining gangs in Rajanpur
According to sources, the security forces started their ground offensive at 7:30am and destroyed almost 10 hideouts of the criminal gangs, including Imrani, Sukhani, Lund, Gopang, Pallu and Ataullah Patt gangs.
There were reports of heavy casualties. However, the actual number of deaths could not be confirmed. An emergency has already been announced at the government hospitals in Rajanpur and Rahim Yar Khan.
The army also recaptured a police check post, which had been under the gangsters’ control for many years, and hoisted Pakistan’s flag on it. There were also reports that the forces arrested 12 more alleged gangsters. On Friday, eleven alleged facilitators of Ataullah Patt gang surrendered to police.
The forces have also set up more check posts in Kacha Moro and Kacha Jamal areas. The curfew in the adjoining areas also continued on the ninth consecutive day as security forces mounted more search operations as made announcements, asking gangsters to lay down their arms.
Rajanpur operation: Army to eliminate all no-go areas nationwide
The operation codenamed Zarb-e-Aahan – initially led by Punjab police and supported by paramilitary Rangers– was started in the last week of March against the gangsters infesting Rajanpur’s kacha areas.
The offensive reached a climax on April 16 after the army took its charge following the killing of seven and kidnapping of around 24 policemen by a gangster, Ghulam Rasool alias Chutto.
Chutto surrendered along with his accomplices to the army on April 20 and released the kidnapped officials. However, the operation has continued to uproot the other gangs holed up in the area, strategically located at the junction of three provinces.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 24th, 2016.