• Seek ‘safe passage’ to Afghanistan
• Operation underway to clear the facility
• KP govt says ‘situation under control’
• Four cops martyred in Lakki Marwat attack

LAKKI MARWAT: Detained militants inside a Bannu CTD facility on Sunday took over its compound, held interrogators hostage and demanded safe evacuation to Afghanistan, while in a separate terrorist attack four policemen were martyred in Lakki Marwat, police confirmed.

Two security personnel were in­­jured in the Bannu standoff that continued till late in the evening.

However, Special Assistant to KP chief minister Barrister Muhammad Ali Saif claimed the situation was “under control” and security forces had started an operation.

The militants, detained at the facility run by Khyber Pakhtun­khwa police’s Counter Terrorism Department (CTD), managed to break out of the lockups and held security personnel hostage.

An official source said militants “took over the compound” and fired at the security personnel, injuring a policeman and a soldier.

Police and security forces rushed to the spot and an operation was underway to free the hostages, the source said.

The cantonment area — where the facility was located — has been sealed and the residents have been asked to stay indoors.

Earlier, sources said that negotiations were underway with the militants while commandos of the Pakistan Army and police were deployed for an operation.

A resident in Bannu said gunshots and explosions were heard in the cantonment area.

Conflicting reports were shared on social media with many users claiming that terrorists had attack­­ed the CTD facility from the outside.

However, Mr Saif denied such reports and added that some detain­­ed ‘miscreants’ had tried to snatch weapons from security personnel.

A video clip also went viral in which allegedly one of the militants was holding a security official at gunpoint.

The alleged militant demanded a “safe passage” to Afghanistan and warned of dire consequences if the demand was not met.

Another alleged militant, whose face was not visible, can be heard saying eight to ten security personnel were in their captivity.

He said thirty-five of his associates — whom he called fidayeen — who were detained, had managed to break free, and demanded Pakistan government to ensure their departure to Afghanistan via air.

“We broke the jail and the security men are in our captivity and they will be released safely if we are provided a safe exit,” he said.

Attack on Lakki Marwat police station

In a separate attack, four policemen were martyred when terrorists attacked a police station at Bargai village in Lakki Marwat late on Saturday night according to a police official.

Four cops, including a sub-inspector, were injured.

Bargai is a remote area located on the border with Bitani subdivision of Lakki Marwat district and Wazir subdivision of Bannu district.

The police station was established in the area last year to improve the law and order situation, control crime and prevent the infiltration of terrorists from adjoining tribal regions of erstwhile Fata.

A police official said terrorists attacked the police station with automatic weapons and hand grenades and fired rockets.

He said the exchange of fire between the terrorists and security forces lasted for over half an hour.

The official said policemen posted there showed gallantry and foiled terrorists’ attempt to breach the police station.

He said the assailants faced tough resistance from cops and fled the place.

“During the gunfight, four policemen, including Head Constable Ibrahim and constables Imran, Khairul Rahman and Sabz Ali, laid down their lives,” he said.

He added that injured cops, including ASI Gul Sahib Khan and constables Balqiaz, Amir Nawaz and Farmanullah, were shifted to a local hospital.

Additional police force from nearby police stations headed by DPO Ziauddin Ahmed has been deployed in the area and a search operation has been launched to locate the attackers, the official added.

Later, the bodies of martyred cops were taken to police lines in the District Headquarters Complex, Tajazai for a funeral.

The funeral prayers were attended by Bannu RPO Syed Ashfaq Anwar, Army’s Lt Col Mehmood, Additional Deputy Commissioner Dr Tariqullah, DPO Ziauddin Ahmed, SP Murad Khan and locals.

A police contingent presented a guard of honour to the martyred cops while civil administration, police and military officials laid floral wreaths on their coffins that were draped in the national flag.

Addressing the relatives of deceased policemen, RPO Anwar vowed to bring the attackers to justice at all costs.

He paid rich tributes to the martyred cops for rendering ‘supreme sacrifice’ in the line of duty and said their sacrifice would not go in vain.

Chief Minister Mahmood Khan also condemned the attack and sought a report from the inspector general of police. He expressed grief over the attack and said the sacrifices rendered by the policemen would not go waste.

Lakki Marwat is situated in KP’s southern region which has witnessed a surge in terrorist attacks, especially targeting law enforcement personnel and security forces.

This was the fourth attack on police in the region in the past month.

Earlier on Nov 16, six cops were martyred when the van they were travelling in was attacked with heavy weapons in Kurram Par area of Lakki Marwat.

The policemen were going to Landiwah areas for security duties at a cattle fair.

In the following attacks, Manzar Faqeer police posts in Tajori area and Saddar police station in Arsala area near Lakki Marwat were attacked on Nov 23 and Nov 25, respectively.

Subsequently, an operation was launched by the Pakistan Army in Pashan area of Lakki Marwat.

According to a police official, the hideouts of terrorists were targeted with gunship helicopters during the operation.

Published in Dawn, December 19th, 2022

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