Two men in uniform martyred, dozen including SSG jawans wounded
Tariq Saeed Peshawar
The two days long siege of the Counter Terrorism Department Bannu ended Tuesday when the security forces in a successful operation killed more than two dozen terrorists who had held many officials as hostage demanding release of their comrades in the forces custody.
While two soldiers were martyred during the operation, around a dozen men in uniform including an officer also sustained injuries in the bloody clashes.
There were conflicting reports about the deaths of the attackers as some reports suggested that all the 33 outlaws present inside the compound were mowed down by the SSG commandos.
In fact the Special Services Group of the Pakistan Army sprung into action against the terrorists Tuesday afternoon after parleys spanning over two days failed between the government and the militants who wanted safe exit to Afghanistan.
It may be recalled that reportedly around two dozen terrorists launched the attack on the CTD office situated in the Bannu cantonment on Sunday evening and held many officials including a Subedar Major hostage after wounding him seriously besides killing a cop.
The TTP had also released a video on the social media showing a Subedar Major who was bleeding and also threatened to kill him and other people if their demands were not met that included setting free their comrades in the forces custody and providing them safe exit to Afghanistan through helicopter.
The TTP man, speaking in the video, also warned of dire consequences and launching more attacks on the officials if their demand were not met.
Defense Minister Khawaja Asif said Tuesday that the Counter-Terrorism Department’s compound in Bannu, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, was cleared after three days and all the terrorists who overpowered guards were killed in an operation.
In his briefing to the National Assembly, the minister said 10-15 soldiers had been injured and two martyred after the Pakistan Army’s Special Service Group launched an operation earlier Tuesday.
“This operation was initiated on December 20 at 12:30pm by the Special Service Group and all terrorists were killed,” Asif said, adding that the entire CTD compound was cleared by 2:30pm. The minister said adding the militants were not part of one group, rather they belonged to different banned outfits.
The minister added that there were 33 arrested terrorists inside the compound and one of them overpowered a man stationed at the centre. He then snatched his weapon and later the terrorists took over the centre, Asif said.
However, independent reports said that a group of terrorists launched ambush on the CTD compound and overpowered the security staff with the help of their detained comrades within the compound.
“It’s not clear if the terrorists attacked from outside, or if they snatched the ammunition from staff inside while being interrogated following their arrest,” Bannu police spokesman Muhammad Naseeb had told the reporters a day earlier
“When all attempts failed, commandos conducted a precision operation in which all 33 militants were killed while several security officials were injured,” Defense minister Asif said.
All the soldiers who had been taken hostage in the stand-off were freed unhurt. Two security forces personnel were martyred during the operation while over dozen others including SSG commando sustained injuries during the operation and were shifted to Bannu Combined Military Hospital for treatment.
The defense Minister said that the army has taken over the control of the security, along with the police and CTD members, of the area.
“The army, apart from police and CTD, in Bannu has taken the control of all the matters and led this,” Khawaja Asif told reporters in response to a query on the siege of the facility. However, Asif maintained caution while speaking about it“. I am right now speaking in a more cautious way. I don’t want to say anything that can affect our efforts there.”
A tense calm prevailed in Bannu where a public holiday was declared on Monday for all offices and schools within Bannu Cantonment and the district administration and courts were also closed and the residents were asked to remain confined to their houses.
The security forces are also reported to have kicked of grand operation in the region to net other comrades of the terrorists as well as their facilitators.
Agencies add: The defence minister mentioned that the provincial government, which oversees the CTD, has “completely failed” in carrying out its responsibility.
“The entire provincial government was a hostage of Imran Khan in Zaman Park. On the other hand, innocent people in KP were made hostage [by terrorists],” he said.
Asif added that even when floods hit KP, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led government has repeatedly failed to live up to the expectations.
“But this, this is an ‘utter failure’. Ultimately, our security forces had to get involved and sacrifice their lives […] the provincial government had no role in it whatsoever. This is a failure of nine years, not six months or a year,” he said. Asif credited the army for the operation.
Asif said Imran even uses the helicopters of the provincial government. “He is also thinking to come into power once again and destroy anything that is left,” the minister said.