PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - Police arrested two men suspected of distributing pamphlets for Islamic State (IS) following a raid in the northwestern city of Peshawar, officials said on Wednesday, amid lingering fears that the Middle East militant group was making inroads in Pakistan.
Last month, the military said that it had stemmed Islamic State’s attempts to expand in the country, having arrested more than 300 people suspected of plotting attacks against government, diplomatic and civilian targets.
Following Tuesday’s raid, however, police in the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province said militants were operating in parts of Peshawar, including some from Islamic State.
“Some of areas in the provincial capital including Tehskal, Palosai, Charsadda Road and Regi are known for activities of militant groups such as IS,” police official Ishtiaq Ahmed told Reuters.
Another police official, speaking on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to the media, said two other suspects managed to escape during the raid.
There are fears that some of Pakistan’s home-grown Sunni militants could be drawn to Islamic State, as already seen in neighboring Afghanistan.
Pakistan has long suffered from sectarian violence, with Sunni militants targeting the country’s minority Shi‘ites, as well as non-Muslim religious minorities.
In August, the official Islamic State news service claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing at a hospital in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta that killed 74 people.
The attack, however, was also claimed by a breakaway faction of the Pakistani Taliban, Jamaat-ur-Ahrar, which at one time had declared support for Islamic State’s Middle East leadership, but later switched back to the Taliban.
Writing by Asad Hashim; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore