Sat Apr 8, 2017 1:19PM
Pakistani security officials cordon off the scene of a bomb attack on a census team in Lahore on April 5, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Pakistani security officials cordon off the scene of a bomb attack on a census team in Lahore on April 5, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Pakistani police say at least 10 militants have been killed in a gun battle in the eastern city of Lahore, just a few days after a bomb attack rocked the city, killing several people and wounding nearly 20 others.

According to a statement released by Pakistan's Counter-Terrorism Department, the incident occurred in the early morning of Saturday, when security forces were taking five arrested members of Jamaat-ul-Ahrar terrorist group, a breakaway faction of the Pakistani Taliban, to recover an arms cache and a hideout, both belonging to the group, but they came under attack by nearly 10 militants, who freed the captives.

Among the freed suspects was Anwarul Haq, the group’s key handler of Lahore’s Mall Road blast on February 13, in which at least 14 people were killed. Based on Haq’s information, security forces had managed to arrest a number of his accomplices.

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Police called for reinforcements and encircled the area, forcing the militants to surrender. However, the militants started shooting at police. In the ensuing fierce gun battle that lasted for half an hour 10 militants were killed, including Haq.

A Pakistani policeman reacts as he attempts to move an injured victim from a blast site after a powerful explosion in Lahore on February 13, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Jamaat-ul-Ahrar had claimed responsibility for February’s attack in Lahore along with a number of other terrorist assaults, including an Easter Day bombing in the city last year that claimed the lives of over 70 people in a public park.

Saturday’s skirmish came three days after the militant group attacked a van carrying census staffers in Lahore. Six people were killed in the assault and 19 others were injured.

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Lahore, the capital city of Punjab province, has been the scene of several attacks since February this year. In mid-February, a powerful bomb exploded among people participating in a protest rally by Pakistani chemists and pharmaceutical manufacturers near the provincial assembly in the city, killing over a dozen people. Two bomb explosions also rocked Lahore later in February and claimed the lives of at least six people.