On the 18th day of Operation Zarb-e-Ahan in South Punjab by the Rangers and Police, the ISPR announced that the Pakistan Army had taken charge of the operation and launched a full-fledged ground and aerial offensive in Rajanpur against the notorious Chottu gang.

DG ISPR Tweeted: “Army troops have been deployed. Take over charge of operation. Cordon reinforced, police and Rangers already in operation will continue to participate under the army.”

He further Tweeted that “Op in Kacha:Army troops deployed.Take over charge of op.Cordon reinforced,Police&Rangers already in op will cont to participate under Army”

While Rangers and police personnel will continue participating in the operation it will be under supervision of army officers with available resources to be employed to accomplish the mission.

The move came after the Army troops joined the police to carry out rescue operation to free 20 law enforcement personnel abducted by gangsters three days ago with the cordon around the gang beingreinforced.

An airstrike at about 5:30pm in Kacha Jamaal and Kacha Karachi by Cobra Gunship Helicopters launched the offensive against gangsters by strafing the area for about an hour followed by dropping teargas canisters to help in airdrop of soldiers for a search operation.

Meanwhile, dusk to dawn curfew has also been imposed in the area by the district administration, banning any public movement till further notice.

In the ongoing action about seven policemen have been killed and some 20 taken hostage by the gangsters with 18 injured policemen under treatment in different hospitals. The intense gunfight prevented the recovery of the bodies of the policemen and only three of the seven slain policemen bodies have been retrieved so far. The gangsters have threatened to kill the abducted policemen one by one.

The island of Kacha Jamaal in Rajanpur district has been the hideout of the Chotu Gang for years. It is about 11km in length and 6km wide.

Ghulam Rasool alias Chotu  is booked in about 154 cases of kidnapping and killings directly or indirectly, and has a head money of Rs2 million. He heads a gang of about 200 well-armed but poorly trained gangsters.

The Rojhan sub-district has for the past three decades, seen many fights among Mazari, Gorchani and Bugti tribes and all the tribes have supported the gangsters to create a defensive shield against each other.