- Operation launched after militants seize CTD compound.
- Pakistan held talks with TTP in Afghanistan to end stand-off.
- Forces complete operation after killing all terrorists, say sources.
Security forces have wrapped up their ‘search and kill’ operation after gunning down the terrorists holding hostages inside the Counter-Terrorism Department’s (CTD) compound in Bannu, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, security sources told Geo News on Tuesday.
Forces are however further combing the area to search for and neutralise any terror threats still hiding out there.
The fierce exchange of fire left several security men injured, according to sources.
The forces had launched an operation to free the hostages taken by militants in the compound earlier today. Officials, privy to the development, shared that a clearance operation is underway.
Geo News had reported that columns of smoke could be seen rising from the compound, while a gunbattle raged on inside.
Schools have already been shut down in Bannu on the orders of the deputy commissioner. The hospitals have been put on high alert and mobile services have also been blocked in the area.
TTP storms CTD compound
The operation was launched after Taliban terrorists stormed the CTD compound in Bannu and held hostages on Sunday.
To end the standoff, the government of Pakistan started talks with the leadership of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Afghanistan. It was confirmed by Mohammad Ali Saif, spokesperson of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government.
The sources had claimed that the terrorists are demanding a safe air route to Afghanistan.
Deteriorating law & order
The law and order situation in KP has gone south over the last few weeks as an increase has been noticed in threats and attacks on security forces as well as high-profile political personalities.
According to a The News report, the police are on high alert across the province after the recent spike in attacks in areas including Peshawar, southern districts, and the Mardan region.
The publication, citing a source, said: “Apart from the police, senior politicians have complained of receiving threats. The houses of some of them have also come under grenade attack.”
Provincial spokesperson of the Awami National Party (ANP) Samar Bilour has also shared that their provincial president Aimal Wali Khan had received a call about a plan of attack on his life.
Samar said that their leadership’s protection is the state’s responsibility, adding that they will be left with no other option but to take the protection of their leaders into their own hands if the state does not act.
“Apart from Aimal Wali Khan, Sardar Hussain Babak and others have received threats as well while the house of MPA Faisal Zeb was attacked twice in the last few weeks,” Samar Haroon Bilour had said last week.
Apart from the attack on the house of ANP MPA Faisal Zeb in Shangla, a grenade was hurled at the house of party Senator Hidayatullah in Peshawar in recent months.
Rising terror incidents
The wave of terrorist attacks has risen across the province in the last few months, the report said. At least 118 terrorist incidents were reported in KP from mid-August till the last week of November, according to official numbers.
At least 26 policemen, 12 personnel of other law enforcement agencies and 17 civilians were killed in terror incidents across the KP. Moreover, 18 policemen, 10 civilians, and 37 law enforcement agencies personnel suffered injuries in these attacks.
A dozen districts, including Peshawar, Mardan, Bajaur, Mohmand, Dera Ismail Khan, Tank, Kohat, Bannu, and Nowshera came under attack in November.
US offers help against TTP threats
Amid the rising terror incidents in Pakistan, the US has offered to help the country in dealing with the threats posed by the militant outfits.
During a press briefing, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price was asked to comment on terrorism and the hostage situation at a counterterrorism centre in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Bannu city.
“Well, first on the ongoing situation in Pakistan, we are of course aware. We’ve been closely following reports that militants have seized control of the counterterrorism centre in Bannu. We offer our deepest sympathies to those injured,” Ned Price said and urged those responsible for the attack to cease all acts of violence, to safely release those who remain hostage, and to end the seizure of the counterterrorism centre.
The spokesperson said that Islamabad is a partner when it comes to these shared challenges, including the challenge of terrorist groups — terrorist groups inside of Afghanistan, and terrorist groups along the Afghan-Pakistan border.
“We have partnered with our Pakistani friends to take on — to help them take on this challenge. We stand ready to assist, whether with this unfolding situation or more broadly. But this is a situation for which we’d have to refer you to Pakistani authorities.”
This is a developing story and is being updated with more details.