After Peshawar, terror revisits Karachi

Two cops, Rangers man among 4 martyred in KPO attack; two terrorists killed, third one blows himself up


Our Correspondent February 17, 2023
View of a police office building attacked by armed men in Karachi on February 17, 2023. PHOTO: EXPRESS

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KARACHI:

Two policemen and a Rangers man were among four people martyred, while 16 others sustained injuries, when terrorists, wearing suicide vests and carrying automatic weapons and grenades stormed the Karachi Police Office (KPO) on Friday, officials said.

A gun battle raged for more than three hours following the assault after dusk, as security forces went floor-to-floor through the building in pursuit of the assailants. The forces retook the building after killing the three militants, a government spokesperson said.

The attack, claimed by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), came just weeks after a bomb blast at a police mosque in Peshawar killed over 100 people, mostly policemen. Officials said late on Friday that security would be stepped up in Islamabad.

The tightly guarded KPO is located behind the Saddar police station on Sharea Faisal. The compound is home to dozens of administrative and residential buildings as well as hundreds of officers and their families.

The attack began between 7pm and 7:30pm on Friday. The terrorists, reportedly drove a silver-coloured vehicle to reach the Saddar Police Lines behind the KPO. The assailants first entered a local mosque near the KPO under the cover of indiscriminate fire.

The imam of the mosque told The Express Tribune that he had concluded the Maghrib prayers, when he heard the gunshots. He added that as soon as he came out of the mosque, the terrorists opened fire at him but he managed to escape.

A sweeper lost his life due to firing by the terrorists there, officials said later. The terrorists then reached the KPO premises and entered the building. The police said the attackers used more than 20 hand grenades during the assault.

As soon as the incident was reported, police, Rangers and the Special Security Unit, officers from other agencies and trained commandos reached the spot. Sharea Faisal was closed for traffic, while electricity supply was also cut off in the area.

During the initial operation, a terrorist wearing a suicide jacket blew himself up on the fourth floor of the building. After that, the police and Rangers commandos started searching the upper floors of the building.

During that time, the area reverberated with heavy gunfire and loud explosions from inside the compound. Finally, the terrorists reached the roof of the building where they hunkered down until they were killed by the Rangers and police commandos in a tough battle.

“Four people were killed in the attack, including two policemen, one Ranger, and one sanitary worker,” Sindh government spokesperson Murtaza Wahab Siddiqui said. “The operation has concluded with the killing of all three terrorists,” he added.

The Sindh Rangers said in a late night statement that its Quick Response Force (QRF) was deployed, adding that the operation was led by Brig Tauqeer of the Counter-Terrorism Wing, known as the Qalandar Force.

A view of ongoing operation inside the Karachi Police Office. PHOTO: EXPRESS

“The police office building was cleared in a phased joint operation by the Counter-Terrorism Wing of the Rangers,” a Sindh Rangers spokesperson said. “Pakistan Army, Rangers and police fought bravely and foiled the terrorist attack.”

The spokesperson identified the martyred Rangers personnel as Sub-Inspector Taimur, adding that seven Rangers men were injured. “The injured have been shifted to the Jinnah Hospital for medical treatment.”

Siddiqui, the Sindh government spokesperson, said that one of the injured persons was in critical condition, while 13 of them were stable. He added that Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah reached the office of the Sindh police chief to monitor the situation.

Karachi South Deputy Inspector General of Police Irfan Baloch said up to 30 policemen were present at the time of the attack. He added the terrorists carried hand grenades and Kalashnikovs, besides gram, dates, water bottles and other items.

The car in which the terrorists had come was left running throughout the operation. The police later recovered an Ajrak, a mat, slippers, water bottles, a number plate placed on the dashboard and a magazine.

Siddiqui said that the security forces retook the building after several hours and killed three militants. The police commandos and a bomb disposal squad entered the building and a security sweep was under way.

Police officers take position after a police office building was attacked by gunmen in Karachi, Pakistan February 17, 2023. PHOTO: REUTERS

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah called the attackers “terrorists... armed with grenades and other weapons”, saying that they fired a rocket at a gate. “There’s a general threat across the country but there was no specific threat to this place,” he added.

 

President Arif Alvi, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari condemned the terrorist attack. They said that the whole nation stood with the security forces in the fight against terrorism.

 

(WITH INPUT FROM AGENCIES)

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