A Taliban militant and his wife carried out a suicide bombing on a police station in Pakistan on Saturday that killed 12 policemen, a Taliban spokesman said on Sunday.
The pair, armed with assault rifles and hand grenades, raided the compound and took a dozen policemen hostage forseveral hours in a town near the region of South Waziristan, amajor al Qaeda and Taliban sanctuary on the Afghan border.
Ehsanullah Ehsan, a Pakistani Taliban spokesman, said the assault was carried out in retaliation for Bin Laden's killing and government attacks against militants.
"The attackers were a husband and wife. We will keep carrying out attacks with different strategies," he told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location.
Under siege in DI Khan: Bombers storm police station
Heavily-armed Taliban insurgents, some of them dressed in burqas, stormed a police station and held over a dozen policemen hostage before commandos recaptured the building after a several hours long standoff in the southern Dera Ismail (DI) Khan district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa on Saturday.
At least 10 policemen and five attackers — three of them wearing suicide vests — were killed in the afternoon assault, police said. At least 14 policemen held hostage in the Kolachi police station compound were also rescued by the police commandos.
The Kolachi police station is situated some 50 kilometres northwest of DI Khan city. The area borders Frontier Region Tank which serves as a buffer between the South Waziristan tribal region and DI Khan district.
The region’s top police officer Syed Imtiaz Shah confirmed to the media that at least 10 policemen, among them station house officer of the police station, were killed and 14 wounded in the attack. He said five attackers – three of them suicide bombers – were also killed.
Shah said that two of the bombers detonated the explosives strapped to their bodies during the commando operation and the third one was shot dead before he could detonate the charge. He added that there was one woman among the suicide bombers.
Another police official told The Express Tribune that the attackers were dressed in burqas and armed with hand grenades and automatic weapons. The siege began when the attackers pulled out guns at the station’s main gate and killed the policemen deployed there.
The militants then damaged the boundary wall with hand grenades, enabling more rebels to follow them into the building. About 17 policemen were on duty at the time and were taken hostage by the militants once they ran out of ammunition, Shah said.
Soon afterwards, police and paramilitary reinforcements reached the site to regain control of the police station. The attackers held off the reinforcements for around four hours before the police commandos decided to mount the final assault.
“Two of the suicide bombers blew themselves up when a police armoured personnel carrier (APC) rolled into the police station building, while the third one was hit by a rocket,” police officer Shah said. “The remaining three attackers were killed in exchange of fire with the police commandos.”
An APC, two police patrol vans and five other vehicles parked inside the police station were also destroyed in the suicide blasts.
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain also confirmed the casualty figure, saying that “police have taken control of the police station.”
Hussain said the burqa-clad attackers had hoped to secure the release of other militants. “The attackers had come prepared for days of siege and hostage-taking to secure the release of other militants,” Hussain told AFP.
“Police have found the bodies of three militants and the heads of three suicide bombers,” Hussain said, adding that half of the police station building had been destroyed.
Television footage showed thick black smoke billowing from the roof of the fortress-like police station and security forces and police firing at militants.
A spokesperson for the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in a telephone call to media outlets claimed responsibility, saying it was the latest in a series of attacks to avenge the killing of al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.
“We sent one male and one female suicide bomber to participate in the attack, because we want to liberate our people from the slavery of America,” TTP spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan said. (With additional input from Wires)
Published in The Express Tribune, June 26th, 2011.
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