Peshawar (Pakistan) – Gunmen on Thursday shot dead a prison official and his brother in northwestern Pakistan, a week after a Taliban attack on an air force base which killed 29 people, police said.

Pakistani policemen arrive at the scene at a shooting in January © AFP/File Rizwan Tabassum
Pakistani policemen arrive at the scene at a shooting in January © AFP/File Rizwan Tabassum

Zahir Shah, the deputy superintendent of Peshawar prison, where hundreds of militants have been locked up, was shot at home at Hari Chand village, some 60 kilometres (40 miles) northeast of Peshawar, when he was meeting friends and relatives as part of Eid al-Adha, the Islamic festival of sacrifice.

Local residents said that four gunmen came on motorcycle and two went inside the premises posing as visitors to exchange Eid greetings with Shah and when they were sitting in a compound adjacent to his house, they opened fire on him.

Shah’s brother who was nearby and rushed to the scene with a gun was shot dead by two assailants standing outside, they said.

“Unknown gunmen shot dead Zahir Shah and his brother and fled on motorcycles,” local police station chief Hassan Khan told AFP.

District police chief Shafi Ullah confirmed the incident.

Nobody immediately claimed responsibility but Taliban militants have targeted police, politicians and government officials in the past.

Last Friday up to 14 Taliban militants entered an air force base outside Peshawar and killed 29 people, in the deadliest attack in Pakistan since December when Taliban killed 154 people, most of them children, at an army-run school in Peshawar.

Friday’s attack was also the deadliest attack on a Pakistani military facility since the Pakistani Taliban rose up against the state in 2007.

The tribal badlands that lie just a short drive from Peshawar have been the scene of a major military offensive against Taliban and other militants over the past year.

The army launched the “Zarb-e-Azb” operation in June 2014 in a bid to wipe out militant bases in North Waziristan tribal area and so bring an end to the bloody decade-long Islamist insurgency that has cost Pakistan thousands of lives.

The army intensified its offensive after the Peshawar school attack and since then there has been something of a lull in violence. The last major attack in the city came in February when three heavily armed Taliban militants stormed a Shiite mosque, killing 21 people.