LAHORE: Six suspected militants were killed in a shootout with the personnel of Counter Terrorism Department in Shera Kot area late Tuesday night.

Police investigators have yet to ascertain the identities of the dead, whose ages are between 25 and 35. The bodies were moved to the Mayo hospital’s morgue early in the morning.

An official while requesting anonymity told The Nation that the “militants look like members of the Punjabi Taliban.” He said the dead were not identified by police so far. “Investigators are working to ascertain their identity,” the official said, and declined to comment further.

The shooting comes just one week after police and security operatives shot and killed five militant commanders during a staged encounter at a house in Lahore’s Chuhng area.

A CTD spokesperson today told reporters that the dead militants belonged to “Ustad Aslam Group,” an offshoot of the Pakistani Taliban having presence in some parts of the Punjab province. This group is also dubbed as Punjabi Taliban in the local and foreign media occasionally.

According to the spokesperson, dozens of police commandoes launched a joint operation near Tallat Park in Kachi Abadi in the limits of Shera Kot police station late Tuesday night.

Police and intelligence agencies raided a house as the counter-terrorism department received secret information that eight to 10 members of Ustad Aslam Group were hiding there.

The militants opened indiscriminate fire on the police commandoes as they encircled the hideout and warned them to lay down arms. The police also opened fire in self-defence. The spokesperson claimed, “When the fire was stopped, six militants were found dead inside the house. They were shot dead by their own accomplices.”

According to a CTD official, some accomplices of the dead militants managed to escape during the crossfire. After this successful operation, the CTD police also seized 5-kg explosives, four detonators, two Kalashnikov rifles, three motorcycles, four pistols, and 97 bullets from the site.

The official said that raids were underway in different parts of the province to nab the accomplices of the dead militants.

According to official sources, the militants killed in Tuesday’s police shooting were planning gun and bomb attacks on high-profile targets including attack on important personalities.

Eleven “suspected militants” have been killed in two police operations in Lahore since a suicide bomber detonated his explosive vest among crowds in Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park on March 27. The blast killed 75 people including 29 children. Most of the victims were Muslims, although the bomber targeted the members of the Christian community when they were enjoying rides at a park after Easter services.

Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, an offshoot of the Taliban, which once declared loyalty to the “Islamic State,” group had claimed credit for a horrific blast in Lahore, also known as bastion of the ruling PML-N.

A spokesperson of the Punjab police said that on the instructions of Inspector General of Police Mushtaq Ahmad Sukhera search operations are underway across the province. The search operations are being carried out with the help of CTD and other intelligence agencies, the spokeswoman said. At least 1423 search operations have been conducted since the suicide blast hit Lahore.

“During these search operations, at least 49,920 persons were questioned and 49,033 were released. At least 887 persons are kept in protective custody for further investigations.” According to the spokeswoman, all the field officers are directed not to misbehave with women and children during the security sweep.