The office of the Karachi police chief, which came under attack on Friday evening by armed militants, has been cleared, officials said, adding that at least three terrorists had been killed.
“I can so far confirm that the Karachi Police Office (KPO) building has been cleared. Three terrorists have been neutralised,” said Sindh government spokesperson Murtaza Wahab on Twitter at 10:42pm, three-and-a-half hours after the attack occurred.
Speaking to Geo News separately, he reiterated that the building had been secured. He said that the bomb disposal squad was checking if the jackets worn by the terrorists were rigged to detonate.
A spokesperson for the Sindh Rangers added the operation had been completed and the process of clearing the area was under way.
- Terrorists breached the 5-storey KPO building near Saddar Police Station on Sharea Faisal at 7:10pm
- Operation completed; clearance under way
- 4 people martyred; 19 injured
- TTP claims attack
DIG East Muqaddas Haider, who was among the senior officers leading the operation, told Dawn.com, that there were a total of three attackers who arrived at the KPO in a Toyota Corolla.
Haider said that one of the attackers blew himself up on the building’s fourth floor while two others were shot dead on the roof.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the Karachi police said that all three terrorists who attacked the KPO had been killed in the operation. The spokesperson said that this was a “major operation” in which senior police officials, including the South and East DIGs, had participated alongside the Rangers and the army.
“With grace of Almighty Allah, the KPO and surrounding areas have been cleared of the terrorists completely and further information will be shared with the media soon,” the police statement said.
Reports of firing on Sharea Faisal — Karachi’s main thoroughfare with a number of strategic installations, including the Pakistan Airforce’s Faisal Base — emerged around 7:15pm. Extra police contingents and Rangers were called to the site of the attack.
Speaking to Geo News, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah said that the attack took place around 7:10pm. He said that the city police chief was not currently in Karachi.
Sharea Faisal had been closed for traffic during the operation with the Sindh government spokesperson requesting citizens to stay put where they were.
The Saddar police station, located next to the police chief’s office, had also issued a statement saying it had come under attack. “SHO, PI Khalid Hussain Memon said that unknown accused [attacked] Saddar police station near Karachi Police Office. Firing is going on everywhere,” the initial statement had said.
South DIG Irfan Baloch earlier told DawnNewsTV said that “spectacular” firing was ongoing but said that the situation would be brought under control. He had, however, refused to comment on the number of people injured, saying that it could only be confirmed once officials would sweep the area.
He said that the entire city’s police force had been called to the scene, in addition to the Rangers and the Quick Response Force (QRF). He further said that the attackers had also lobbed hand grenades. He said that the attackers had come “fully prepared” and were putting up a “tough fight”.
Overseas cricket players are currently competing in the Pakistan Super League, and Karachi is one of the host cities. There is a game scheduled for Saturday (tomorrow).
Sindh Health Department’s spokesperson Mehar Khursheed shared a list of the casualties with Dawn.com, which said four people were brought to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) dead, and 19 injured.
Earlier, Sindh government spokesperson Murtaza Wahab gave a breakdown of the deceased, saying they included two policemen, one Rangers official and one civilian.
TTP claims responsibility
The outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed the attack in a statement issued by its spokesperson Mohammad Khurasani. In 2011, TTP had claimed the attack on PNS Mehran — one of the most densely populated naval bases located in Karachi.
The attack and operation lasted for 17 hours and resulted in the deaths of 10 security personnel. Two US-manufactured surveillance planes were also destroyed during the attack and the ensuing operation.
Three years later, on the night of June 8, 2014, TTP had attacked the Jinnah International Airport of Karachi in which 24 lives were lost and property damaged. The assault on this key installation had far reaching consequences in terms of security at airports and also culminated in the launch of operation Zarb-e-Azb on 15th June, 2014.
The storming of the Karachi police chief’s office comes on the heels of attacks in KP and areas bordering Afghanistan. Since the talks with the TTP broke down in November last year, the militant group has intensified its attacks while insurgents in Balochistan have also stepped up their violent activities and formalised a nexus with the outlawed TTP.
Speaking on today’s attack, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah told Geo News that the government was under the impression that the terrorists did not have access beyond KP and Balochistan. “But now we can see they can reach other cities,” he said.
Sindh govt springs into action
Immediately after reports had surfaced about the attack, the Sindh CM had taken notice of the situation and directed the relevant DIGs to send personnel from their zones. “I want the perpetrators behind the attack on the additional IG’s office to be arrested,” he said, adding that an attack on the police chief’s office was “not acceptable” at any cost.
The chief minister also sought a report from the officer concerned and said that he was personally monitoring the situation. He also directed Rangers to arrive at the scene.
Speaking to Geo News, Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Memon vowed to teach the “terrorists” a lesson, adding that “there was no way the terrorists would be able to flee”.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif took notice and sought a report on the incident. He appreciated the police and security forces for their effective action against the terrorists.
He instructed the interior minister to extend the federal government’s full cooperation in the clean-up operation. He underlined the need for collective action to root out the menace of terrorism.
He added that terrorists had once again targeted Karachi but said that these kind of cowardly acts would not weaken the resolve of law enforcement agencies.
President Dr Arif Alvi also strongly condemned the attack and prayed for the speedy recovery of the injured persons.
“The entire nation stands with its security forces against terrorists,” he said. “Efforts will continue to eradicate the scourge of terrorism.”
Additional input from Reuters
Header photo: Police officers take position after a police office building was attacked by gunmen in Karachi, on Friday. — Reuters