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Wednesday April 24, 2024

25 terrorists killed in Bannu CTD hostage operation

Security forces stormed the CTD compound, killing 25 terrorists, arresting two and forcing seven to surrender

By Bureau report & Muhammad Anis
December 21, 2022
Police stand guard along a road they blocked after militants seized a police station in Bannu on December 19, 2022. — AFP
Police stand guard along a road they blocked after militants seized a police station in Bannu on December 19, 2022. — AFP

PESHAWAR/ISLAMABAD/BANNU: Security forces on Tuesday stormed the Counter-Terrorism Department’s (CTD) compound here, killing 25 terrorists, arresting two and forcing seven to surrender, said ISPR chief Maj Gen Ahmed Sharif.

A junior commissioned officer and two sepoys were martyred while 10 soldiers, including three officers, were injured in the action.

Speaking in Geo News programme Aapas Ki Baat, anchored by Muneeb Farooq, Gen Sharif said that on December 18, a detained terrorist overpowered the duty constable, snatched his weapon and freed 34 other terrorists, adding they grabbed more weapons from the armoury and started firing. A CTD constable was martyred while another was injured who died at hospital.

Gen Sharif said the terrorists took a junior commissioned officer hostage. Upon hearing the firing, security forces from Bannu Cantt promptly reached the complex and put the area under siege.

The ISPR chief said that right after the terrorists occupied the complex on December 18, the security forces killed two of the terrorists and arrested three of them. Two security personnel were injured.

Gen Sharif said that while attempts were made over the next two days to convince the terrorists to surrender unconditionally, an effective siege foiled terrorists’ every bid to escape. The terrorists had demanded safe passage to Afghanistan, but they were told it was out of the question, Gen Sharif added.

He said that on their refusal to surrender, the security forces stormed the complex, killing 25 terrorists in a heavy exchange of fire.

Gen Sharif said that besides three arrests, seven terrorists surrendered, three sons of the nation — Subedar Major Khursheed Akram, Sepoy Saeed and Sepoy Babar — embraced martyrdom. Ten soldiers, including three officers, were injured.

Gen Sharif expressed the security forces’ resolve to wipe out terrorism, adding sacrifices by the brave martyrs further firm the resolve.

The situation remained tense in Bannu on the third day on Tuesday amid the operation to clear the CTD compound of the militants.

On the other hand, Federal Minister Khwaja Asif told the National Assembly that all the terrorists had been killed in an operation conducted by the Special Services Group of the army. A few members of the security personnel also sustained injuries in the operation.

He said there were 33 militants in the CTD compound when one of them snatched weapons from an official and took other officials hostage after releasing all those held in the facility. The federal minister said the operation was launched at around 12:30 pm.

Khawaja Asif, speaking at the joint session of parliament, said that security forces had killed all 33 terrorists and freed all hostages held in the CTD compound in Bannu Cantonment in a successful operation.

The minister said that two security officials embraced martyrdom in the operation, and while 10 to 15 SSG personnel, including an officer, were injured, some of them critical. He said the Special Services Group of the Pakistan Army started the operation at 12:30 pm. on Tuesday (December 20) and got the compound cleared by 2:30 pm.

He told the house that there were 33 terrorists inside the compound, and one of them overpowered a CTD man inside the center. He snatched weapons from the officials, and then terrorists took over the center.

He said that the militants did not belong to one group, but were instead from different outfits.

At the outset, the Joint Session of the Parliament prayed for the departed souls, including the grandmother of Deputy Speaker Zahid Akram Durrani, martyred officials of the security forces who laid their lives down in the line of duty in defence of the country, and 12 other people who died in a cylinder blast in Balochistan.

The house also prayed for the early recovery of injured.

Later, Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif told a presser on Tuesday that the federal government would have to ask the Pakistan Army to launch an operation against terrorists in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as the provincial government could not respond to terrorist acts.

“This is the need of the hour given the situation there, which is also due to spillover impacts of the situation in Afghanistan,” Khawaja Asif, while responding to a question at a media briefing about the possibility of any new operation with particular reference to THE KP province, said, adding Pakistan also wanted peace in the neighbouring country.

The minister said the KP government, which is in charge of CTD in the province, had no involvement in the operation and had failed to fulfil its responsibilities. “This is an utter failure, and the security forces had to be involved, and they sacrificed their lives,” the minister said, adding that the whole KP government is a hostage of Imran Khan in Zaman Park. On the other hand, the people of the province are being held hostage by terrorists.

“This is the failure of nine years as the PTI government in the province repeatedly failed to deliver and come up to the expectations of people,” he said, adding that Imran Khan, who still uses the helicopter of the provincial government, wanted to come to power again and destroy everything that was left.

He pointed out that whenever there was a difficult time in the KP, including floods in the province, the provincial government fails to deliver and fulfil its responsibilities.

“This is the total collapse of the KP government. There is a crisis in the province while the chief minister is a hostage of Imran Khan,” he said.He said a process would have to be carried out mainly in the KP province, where the government had failed to fulfil its duties.

“The federal government will have the armed forces come into action and defend our territory,” the minister said. Khawaja Asif said. He said the provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa remained irrelevant to the Bannu incident.

He said the capacity of the Counter Terrorism Department of the KP province was found to be insufficient; rather, they lack the capacity and training to deal with acts of terrorism. “The whole provincial leadership of PTI’s KP chapter is also sitting in Zaman Park, and you know very well what they are planning to do,” the minister said.

“Troops of the Pakistan Army reached there on Sunday, and completed the operation today,” Khwaja Asif told newsmen.

A medical emergency was declared in hospitals in Bannu, while all the public and private educational institutions were closed ahead of the operation to clear the CTD office that had been under the control of militants since Sunday evening.

Thick smoke was seen billowing into the sky and explosions were also heard when the commandos were carrying out the operation. Some reports said grenades were lobbed into the building through drones. Most of the roads were blocked, while internet services remained suspended in parts of Bannu during the operation.

Meanwhile, terrorists stormed the city police station in Wana, South Waziristan, snatching weapons and vehicles from the cops before fleeing.

One policeman was reportedly injured in the Wana attack. Reports said one attacker was killed by the law enforcement agencies’ personnel when the Frontier Corps arrived and exchanged fire with the attackers. The Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Meanwhile, funeral prayers for the martyred official of Intelligence Bureau were offered at the Malik Saad Shaheed Police Lines in Peshawar. Governor Ghulam Ali and senior officials attended the funeral. There was no one from the provincial government to attend the funeral.

IB Sub-Inspector Shaukat Mahboob was martyred in an apparent target-killing attack on the Warsak Road on Monday evening.

KP Police Chief Moazzam Jah Ansari, along with Capital City Police Officer Muhammad Ijaz Khan, on Tuesday visited several places in the provincial capital to inspect the security and check the level of alertness of policemen at police posts and other places, including churches and sensitive buildings.