Three terrorists were killed and four persons martyred as a gunbattle raged Friday night inside the office of the Karachi police chief as militants stormed the building located on Sharea Faisal.
An unknown number of terrorists opened fire at the head office — located adjacent to the Sadar Police Station — which is home to several police buildings as well as the residences of officers and their families.
Four people — including Rangers and police personnel — also lost their lives, and 18 people were injured, officials confirmed to Geo News, the latest attack on security forces as terrorism apparently grips the nation yet again.
The militants were killed in the shootout, officials confirmed, as they swept the office situated on the main artery of Sharea Faisal.
The incident invited strong criticism from the top government officials, however, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif told Geo News' Shahzeb Khanzada that "condemnations are not enough" and strict action must be taken against militants.
The attack began at 7:10pm, while police and Rangers personnel cleared the five-storey building in phases, finally sweeping the entire office by around 10:48pm.
Police snipers took up positions near the station and all lights in the area were switched off.
A police officer, who did not want to be named, told Geo News that the attackers entered the office wearing police uniforms — a tactic similar to the Peshawar mosque suicide attack that claimed the lives of more than 80 people.
Police officials said that armed suspects — whose total numbers are unknown at the moment — fired several rounds at the head office — located adjacent to the Sadar Police Station.
Police sealed off traffic on the main thoroughfare through Karachi and heavy contingents of security forces, including Rangers and Pakistan Army's Special Service Group commandos, had arrived at the scene. However, following the development Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah directed authorities to reopen areas for traffic.
'General security threat'
Talking exclusively to Geo News, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said that commandos of police and Rangers had arrived at the site to deal with the terrorists.
He said that the federal government is in touch with the Sindh Police and "all assistance will be provided."
Sanaullah mentioned that he had spoken to the chief secretary and IG Sindh, who confirmed that the police saw "six to seven terrorists" entering the building.
Responding to a question, he said the general security threat exists following the terror attack in Peshawar. “All the institutions are fully alert across the country,” he added.
The security czar stressed the need for taking further steps to counter the fresh wave of terrorism.
"The police have said that the terrorists threw a grenade after parking the vehicle, and used that as a cover for entering the building," he revealed.
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and Pakistan Peoples Party Chairman (PPP) — whose party is in power in the province — condemned the attack.
“Condemn the terrorist attack on Karachi police. Sindh police have bravely faced and crushed terrorism before,” he stated, taking to his official Twitter handle.
The minister shared fears about more such attacks with hopes that the heinous acts won’t deter the country.
“We have full faith they will do so again, such cowardly attacks will not deter us. #IstandwithKarachiPolice,” Bilawal wrote.
Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah took notice of the attack on the office of the additional inspector-general, instructing several DIGs to send police force to the site.
“The attack on Karachi Police Office is not acceptable under any circumstances,” he said, demanding an initial report from the concerned officer immediately.
The chief minister mentioned that he is personally monitoring the situation and has directed officials concerned to arrest the suspects involved.
Sindh governor directs officials to take 'strong action'
Sindh Governor Kamran Tessori expressed concern over the attack and sought a report from Inspector-General of Police Ghulam Nabi Memon. He directed officials to take "strong action" against the terrorists.
“Terrorists should be strictly dealt with. The attack is an extremely significant cause for concern,” he stated.
Meanwhile, Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Memon insisted on defeating terrorists.
“Terrorists will be taught a lesson for challenging the government’s writ. They have attacked while hiding and the attack will prove costly for them,” the minister said.
In view of the terrorists’ attack, the Karachi Traffic Police had earlier blocked both sides of Sharea Faisal from Avari Hotel to Nursery.
In a bid to avoid inconvenience to commuters, the traffic coming from Avari Hotel’s side was diverted to Teen Talwar and Cantonment Railway Station. While the traffic coming from the Nursery area was diverted to Korangi Road.
Traffic arriving from Korangi Road was diverted to Hino Chowrangi from Defence Mor (intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Korangi Road).
Later, after complete clearance of the area, the main artery of the city was opened for traffic.
In a statement, Islamabad IG Akbar Nasir Khan confirmed that security is on high alert in the federal capital, and all officers have been instructed to stay in their respective areas.
“Checking at entry and exit points and inside the city has been increased,” he said, adding that officials have been directed to keep all important buildings and Red Zone on high alert.
"Official vehicles should also be checked," Islamabad IG instructed, while “citizens should keep necessary identification documents with them while travelling.”
SSP Hyderabad Police also said that security in the city was on high alert, while blockades and snap-checking were underway.
Whereas, police in Mirpurkhas have said that the gates of all police stations and police lines in the city have been closed and security personnel deployed.
Thumbnail image of policemen taking position near the site of an attack on a police compound in Karachi on February 17, 2023 has been taken from AFP.