Pakistan in ‘negotiations with TTP’ in Afghanistan

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CTD hostage situation continues as militants reiterate demand for safe passage

Tariq Saeed
Peshawar

Pakistan authorities, in order to rescue people held hostage by terrorists at the Counter-Terrorism Department’s compound in Bannu, on Monday opened talks with the leadership of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan in Afghanistan, said Mohammad Ali Saif, spokesperson of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government.

“We are in negotiations with the central leaders of the Pakistani Taliban in Afghanistan,” said Saif. The spokesperson warned of strict action if the armed men do not surrender.

Internet services have been suspended in Bannu and the roads leading to and from the Bannu Cantonment have been blocked. Miranshah Road and Jumma Khan Road are closed for all sorts of movements.

The talks between the government officials and TTP militants failed to achieve any breakthrough.

On the other hand, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa govt confirmed terrorists’ attack on the Counter-Terrorism Department in Bannu city on Sunday evening. The attackers, believed to be Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan activists, continued to hold hostage several officials in the building demanding safe passage to Afghanistan.

According to reports around two dozen terrorists launched the attack on the CTD office in the Bannu cantonment and held many officials including a Subedar Major hostage after wounding him seriously besides killing a cop.

The TTP 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 include setting free their comrades in the forces custody and providing them safe exit to hostile neighbouring country 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. However, the officials denied sharing information with the media till late in the night. Though after receiving information, heavy contingents of law enforcement agencies had rushed to the scene and cordoned off the compound as a bloody clash between the forces and the militants ensued, sources said terrorists are still present in the CTD office Bannu, while the body of the policeman, martyred in the gun battle with the outlaws has been shifted to police lines.

On the other hand a spokesperson of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government and Advisor to KP Chief Minister on Information Mohammad Ali Saif has confirmed that talks between Pakistani officials and the leadership of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan are underway in Afghanistan. “We are in negotiations with the central leaders of the Pakistani Taliban in Afghanistan,” Barrister Saif said.

The deputy commissioner of Bannu said that schools in the district would remain closed today, Tuesday.