Pakistani police killed 10 Taliban gunmen in an early morning shootout Saturday in Lahore, officials said, with several militants tied to a February bombing in the eastern city dying in the skirmish.
The gunfight erupted as authorities were escorting five members from the Pakistani Taliban to an arms cache when they were ambushed by gunmen aiming to free the group, said a spokesman with Punjab’s Counter Terrorism Department.
“Ten terrorists from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Jamaat-ul-Ahrar were killed during an operation with the Counter Terrorism Department in Punjab including the accused handler of the February 13 Lahore blast,” said the official, referring to a Pakistani Taliban faction.
According to the spokesman the fire fight ensued for half an hour with at least 10 gunmen killed.
The skirmish comes days after seven people were killed and 19 wounded during a Taliban suicide attack targeting a census team in the city.
Lahore has been on edge since a wave of violent attacks across Pakistan in February killed 130 people and shook citizens emboldened by growing security.
The attacks included a bomb blast in the eastern city on February 13 which killed 14 people in an assault claimed by Pakistani Taliban faction.
Ten days later a fresh blast sent panic through the city when it killed eight people, though officials later said it was a gas leak, not an attack as initially feared.
The renewed violence has dented optimism after the country appeared to be making strong gains in its decade-and-a-half long war on militancy, with analysts speaking of a militant resurgence.