Islamabad - Authorities in northwestern Pakistan said Tuesday that a counterterrorism operation resulted in the arrest of four regional Islamic State-affiliated operatives.
The area's counterterrorism department said the operation was carried out in Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
It identified the detainees as Afghan nationals associated with Islamic State-Khorasan, or IS-K. The statement said that the men plotted attacks in the city, targeting members of religious minorities and security forces.
IS-K took credit for a suicide bombing of a minority Shiite mosque in Peshawar in January of this year, killing nearly 100 worshipers.
Tuesday's arrests came hours after the military said its forces had raided a suspected 'terrorist' hideout near the Afghan border and killed three militants in the ensuing clashes.
A key militant commander was said to be among those killed in the pre-dawn raid in the Khyber border district, a former stronghold of the outlawed Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP.
The group, known as the Pakistani Taliban, routinely carries out attacks against security forces, mainly in districts lining the border with Afghanistan and elsewhere in Pakistan.
Stepped up attacks by the TTP and other insurgent groups in Pakistan this year have killed hundreds of people, mostly members of the security forces. The military has confirmed the deaths of at least 220 soldiers.
Pakistan says the TTP operates out of bases in Afghanistan and the Taliban takeover of the neighboring country two years ago has emboldened the militants to intensify cross-border terrorism, allegations de facto Afghan authorities reject.
'We have a concern because groups like TTP do reside on Afghan soil. There are training camps on their soil, which is a concern for us,' Pakistani caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Kakar said in an interview aired on Monday.
'But whether it is all intentional, does it enjoy the patronage of that government, that remains to be seen,' he told the Turkish TRT channel.