PESHAWAR: Police and security personnel killed five terrorists holed up in a house in the Hayatabad area here on Tuesday after a fierce gun battle lasting over 17 hours, which also left a police officer martyred.
The outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan in an email message issued here claimed that six of its members were involved in the gunfight with law enforcement personnel.
The gun battle started at 7.30pm on Monday evening as police tried to enter the house in E-sector, Phase-VII Hayatabad, during an intelligence-based operation (IBO). Assistant Sub-Inspector Qamar Alam lost his life while trying to enter the house. A terrorist was also killed during an initial exchange of fire that triggered a fierce gunfight which continued till the killing of the four remaining terrorists around Tuesday noon.
Bomb disposal unit destroys militants’ Hayatabad hideout and a bike rigged with 60kg explosives; Taliban claim their six men were involved in gunfight with law enforcers
Two security personnel and two civilians, including a woman, were injured during the gunfight.
City police chief Qazi Jamil-ur-Rehman told reporters that it was a major operation in which a terrorist was killed a day earlier, while four others were killed on Tuesday. He said the militants were holed up in the house and were opening fire whenever security personnel tried to enter the house. He said city police units, army’s Special Services Group and 102 Brigade personnel had taken part in the operation.
The Inter-Services Public Relations said in a statement that the army and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police had conducted a joint IBO in Hayatabad against a terrorist hideout. It said that during the exchange of fire five terrorists were killed, while a police officer lost his life, adding that the bodies of the terrorists had been recovered and their identities were being ascertained.
The Bomb Disposal Unit during the clearance found an explosives-rigged bike on the ground floor, which was connected with explosive materials planted in the basement of the house. The BDU destroyed the bike with an explosive charge, which brought down the two-storey house, sending a plume of thick dust into the rain-soaked air of the neighbourhood.
“The house and bike were rigged with about 60kg explosives, which had been destroyed with a 250-gram explosive charge,” BDU chief AIG Shafqat Malik told Dawn.
A security official requesting anonymity told Dawn that the suspects were very trained and even the house was chosen strategically. “It was a small five-marla house that had strong basement plus two storeys and stairs leading to the basement were just with the front gate,” the official said, adding that it allowed them to hit anyone trying to enter immediately. He said that apparently it was a temporary hideout which they used to plan terrorist attacks as it was very difficult to enter the city from outside.
“Evidence and remnants showed that the terrorists were frequently moving between basement and other storeys, which showed they were highly trained and determined,” the official said, adding that that was why they managed to hold on for about 17 hours.
In the afternoon, as rain pattered the crisscrossing of streets, two excavators were loading house debris into trucks to be hauled away before curious gazes of a large number of onlookers. The street was littered with shards of glass and other debris, while nearby houses were pock-marked with bullet holes. A nearby house and two cars owned by a resident of Kohat were badly damaged as a series of blasts and gun attacks rocked the street.
The owner of the house where the incident took place was identified as Abdul Nasir, a resident of Swat, currently living abroad.
A resident living in the same street told Dawn that it was around 7.30pm when after hearing gunshots they came out of their house and found the street filled with security personnel. “The cops told us to stay inside and army personnel arrived at 9pm,” the resident said, adding that intermittent firing continued throughout the night.
He said his family members, including women and children, spent the night awake in a terrified state as heavy blasts and firing rocked the area. The women and children were shifted to another relative’s house at around 11.30am and shortly afterwards the house came tumbling down with a bang.
About the occupants of the house, the resident said they had moved in a few weeks ago after a family vacated it. He said they used to see some men coming and going out of this house, mostly to purchase bread. “I never saw a woman entering or leaving this house,” the resident said, adding that its occupants rarely socialised with locals.
Published in Dawn, April 17th, 2019