Pakistani police say six policemen were killed and 24 were captured during a police raid on a criminal gang's hideout in eastern Punjab province this week.

Police spokeswoman Nabela Ghazanfar told reporters on Thursday that the bodies of the policemen have been retrieved and that security forces are searching for the captured officers.

She says a notorious criminal, the Chutto, is behind the abductions. The raid took place on Tuesday. Ghazanfar says members of the gang also wounded four officers in a shootout on Wednesday, as the police were searching for the captured colleagues.

Earlier this month, Pakistani police launched an operation against militants and criminal gangs in Punjab, especially in remote areas of Rajanpur district, where militants and criminals have for years challenged the government.