At least six people were killed and as many injured when suicide bombers tried to storm a police station in southern Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa on Monday morning.
The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the infamous group blamed for most violence in the country, claimed responsibility for the attack in Bannu district, which borders North and South Waziristan agencies, the hotbed of militancy in the country.
“Two militants, armed with suicide vests and heavy weapons, attacked Khaki police station, 14 kilometres south of Bannu city around 5:45am,” the district police officer (DPO), Waqar Ahmed, told The Express Tribune. “They fired indiscriminately and lobbed hand grenades at the police station, killing three policemen,” he added.
After hearing the heavy firing, residents rushed out of their homes to help the police fight off the attack, DPO Waqar said. Naeemullah, a security operative who was on vacation in his hometown of Khaki, challenged the bombers and engaged them in a firefight.
“Naeemullah went down fighting the bombers,” DPO Waqar said, adding that both the bombers were killed before they could blow themselves up. “Their explosive vests detonated after gunshots hit them,” he added. “Their bodies were blown to pieces.”
DPO Waqar appreciated residents who, according to him, helped the police stave off the attack on Khaki police station.
However, witnesses contradicted DPO Waqar’s account. “After hearing the gunshots I rushed to the site where I saw five militants firing at the police station,” one witness told The Express Tribune requesting anonymity. “One of the attackers was killed in the retaliatory fire from residents and police, while another ran towards the local mosque where he detonated the explosives strapped to his body,” he added.
The remaining attackers escaped under the cover of heavy fire, according to the unnamed witness.
“The militants attacked the police station from two sides. They lobbed hand grenades and fired indiscriminately,” said SHO Abdul Hameed Marwat, who was also wounded in the attack.
He identified the dead as policemen Imranullah, Ziauddin and Bashirullah, security operative Naeemullah and civilians Hayatullah and Balakyaz. The injured were driven to the District Headquarters Hospital, while body parts of the bombers were sent for a DNA test.
TTP spokesperson Ehsanunallah Ehsan said that his group carried out the attack to avenge the killing of the nephew of slain TTP chief Baitullah Mehsud. He threatened to mount more attacks against the police. Baitullah’s nephew Muhammad Ibrahim, along with a friend, was killed in a shootout with police on November 11 on the outskirts of Bannu city.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 11th, 2012.