Pakistan Chhotu bandits surrender to army in Punjab

Chhotu Image copyright ISPR
Image caption Chhotu and his supporters are reported to be well armed

A notorious Pakistani bandit and 13 members of his gang have surrendered to troops after a military operation in Punjab province, the army says.

It said 24 policemen taken hostage a week ago had also been rescued.

The army statement said Ghulam Rasool, known as Chhotu, had been taken for questioning and "combing operations" were continuing in the area.

The bandits have been blamed for hundreds of kidnappings, gun-smuggling and other crimes in recent years.

They operate in a remote region of southern Punjab and have been battling troops for several weeks.

Image copyright ISPR
Image caption The army said 24 women and 44 children were rescued
Image copyright ISPR
Image caption Chhotu surrendered "unconditionally", the army said

Analysts say the operation against the gang may be an attempt to reassure Chinese investors involved in developing Pakistan's infrastructure.

The surrender comes after army helicopters dropped leaflets on the bandit's island hideout on Tuesday evening telling them to hoist white flags on their boats and row towards the river bank.

Read more: Who are Pakistan's Chhotu bandits?

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