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Two Pakistani Policemen Killed in Attacks on Census Teams

Islamabad, Pakistan – Two policemen accompanying population census teams have been killed in separate attacks in Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

In one of the incidents, a group of attackers on Monday ambushed a police vehicle carrying nine men, Waqar Ahmed, the district police official of Tank district, told Al Jazeera.

“There were 10 to 12 attackers who were hiding in a water channel, from which they started firing on our mobile. The police retaliated but one constable, Khan Nawab, died in the exchange of fire,” Ahmed said.

Four other police officers were wounded in the attack, including two who suffered serious injuries and were transferred to the provincial capital of Peshawar for treatment.

In a statement on Monday evening, the Pakistani military’s media wing said security forces chased after the attackers and killed a “terrorist commander” it identified as “Abdul Rasheed alias Rasheedi”. It added he was wanted by police for involvement “in numerous terrorist activities” against the security forces as well as the killing of civilians, without elaborating.

The other attack took place on Monday afternoon in Lakki Marwat district, about 86km (52 miles) north of Tank.

It was carried out “by two hooded men who rode a bicycle and opened fire on the census team, which resulted in death of constable Dil Jan”, Lakki Marwat police spokesperson Shahid Hameed told Al Jazeera.

The attackers managed to flee after killing the official, Hameed said.

There was no claim of responsibility for either attack.

Pakistan on March 1 kicked off its seventh census, a data-gathering exercise that is expected to last until April 1.

The country has recently seen a rise in attacks on its security forces by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), an armed group also known as the Pakistani Taliban, after it unilaterally ended a ceasefire agreement with the government in November last year.

Among its many demands, the TTP seeks stricter enforcement of Islamic laws, the release of its members from government custody, and a reduction in Pakistani military presence in parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a province bordering Afghanistan.

It also seeks to reverse the 2018 merger of Pakistan’s tribal districts with neighbouring Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Source : ALJazeera