The army’s elite commandos killed 25 militants who had seized the Counter Terrorism Department police station in Bannu, the military’s media wing said in a late night announcement on Tuesday.
The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said the soldiers from the Special Service Group (SSG) foiled the militants’ attempt to escape the facility after their demand to provide them a safe passage to Afghanistan was rejected.
The ISPR denied that the SSG commandos came under attack from the outside, adding that the great sacrifice rendered by the army soldiers “raise our level of love for the country”.
Giving details of the incident, Director General ISPR Major General Ahmed Sharif said on December 18, a detained terrorist overpowered a constable in the CTD complex inside Bannu Cantt.
After snatching the constable's weapon, Maj Gen Ahmed said, the terrorist freed 34 other detained comrades.
“As soon as they came out of lockup, the terrorists got more weapons from the mall and started firing,” the DG ISPR said, adding that terrorists killed one CTD constable and injured another.
“The injured constable later died in hospital.”
The terrorists took hostage the junior commissioned officer present there for investigation, he said, adding that security forces from Bannu Cantt immediately arrived and cordoned off the area as soon as the sound of firing was heard from the CTD compound.
“Immediately after the seizure of the complex on December 18, two terrorists were killed, three were arrested, and two security forces personnel were injured in the exchange of fire.”
He said effective encirclement foiled every escape attempt of the terrorists in the complex.
“Efforts to induce the terrorists to surrender unconditionally continued for the next two days,” he said, adding that however, the terrorists demanded a safe passage to Afghanistan.
“It was made clear to the terrorists that there is no question of accepting their demand to let them go to Afghanistan.”
On December 20, he said, the security forces took action against the terrorists for not surrendering.
“During the operation – fierce exchange of fire between terrorists and security forces – 25 terrorists were killed.
“Three terrorists were arrested while seven surrendered.
“Three sons of the soil were martyred fighting bravely in the operation. Subedar
Major Khurshid Akram, Sepoy Saeed, and Sepoy Babar are among the martyrs.”
He further said 10 soldiers, including two officers, were injured in the operation.
“Security forces are determined to uphold the writ of the state and committed to rooting out terrorism,” the DG ISPR said.
Earlier, briefing parliament about the situation, the defence minister told the lawmakers that security forces successfully carried out the operation, rescuing all the hostages held by the TTP militants.
He said that “all the terrorists” had been killed while two SSG commandos embraced martyrdom and 15 were injured.
The standoff at the Bannu CTD began hours after terrorists killed four police men in Lakki Marwat on Sunday. According to reports, the militants overpowered their interrogators at the facility and snatched their weapons. They then freed other detainees at the centre and took the staff inside the facility hostage.
Senior Bannu police officials had told The Express Tribune on Sunday that two CTD men had been killed by the militants. They added that the hostage-takers wanted a safe passage via a ground route or by air to Afghanistan.
However, the authorities refused to accept their demands and insisted on their surrender.
Asif told parliament that all the hostages had been freed by the army in the operation. "The SSG started this operation… and all the terrorists have been killed," he said in his televised address, adding that the army had retaken full control of the CTD compound.
However, the Inter-Services Public Relations later said that some militants were still holed up inside the facilities amid intermittent noise of explosions. People of the area said they also heard explosions coming from the vicinity of the centre with helicopters hovering overhead.
Asif expressed concerns at terrorism rearing its ugly head in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) again while the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan, whose party rules the province was residing in Lahore and dreaming about coming back to power again.
Asif’s views were endorsed by Senator Mushtaq Ahmad of the Jamaat-e-Islami, who claimed that governance was non-existent in K-P.
He also pointed out that the terrorists had attacked a police station in Wana of South Waziristan district and held the policemen hostage.
“It's a shame that the K-P chief minister doesn’t even attend the funerals of the policemen, who had embraced martyrdom in terrorist attacks,” he said.
The JI senator claimed that there were rumours in K-P that the men, who had attacked the police station, were also planning to stage a similar strike on parliament.
MNA Mohsin Dawar also expressed similar views. “K-P is under attack and terrorists have captured the entire province,” he said. “Whoever facilitated the Taliban in the name of negotiations must be brought to justice.”
(WITH INPUT FROM AGENCIES)
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ