• Two militants shot dead, one blows himself up
• Three law enforcers, one civilian martyred; 19 injured during operation by Rangers, army, police
• TTP claims responsibility for attack
KARACHI: Security forces cleared a five-storey police compound on the port city’s main thoroughfare in an hours-long operation during which three militants of the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) were killed while two policemen, one Rangers official and a citizen embraced martyrdom on Friday evening.
At least 19 men, mostly police and Rangers officials, sustained injuries in the exchange of fire with militants who stormed the heavily guarded Karachi Police Office after lobbing a hand grenade at its main entrance, police and hospital officials said.
The outlawed TTP on the social media claimed responsibility for the latest ambush, which came as a grim reminder of attacks on Bannu CTD complex and Peshawar Police Lines mosque in recent months.
Just half an hour after sunset in the port city, officials said, three militants parked an Indus Corolla car at the KPO entrance before hurling a hand grenade at the gate. Wearing shalwar kameez, the militants brought with them “three bags of food”, indicating their preparation for a prolonged siege, DIG East-Zone Muquddas Haider, who was among the senior officers leading the operation, told Dawn on late Friday night.
While officials initially said exact number of militants could not be ascertained who attacked the metropolis police chief office at around 7:10pm, Adviser to Sindh Chief Minister Barrister Murtaza Wahab after midnight shared details of 23 casualties — four martyred and 19 injured — on Twitter.
He earlier had tweeted, “The latest information is that 4 people were martyred (2 policemen, 1 rangers & 1 civilian) while 14 people are injured, who are being treated. Out of the injured 1 person is critical while the condition of 13 injured persons is stable.”
Multiple explosions were heard during the joint operation, which was completed at 10:48pm, by Pakistan Rangers, army and police personnel.
DIG Haider said there were three attackers, all clad in shalwar kameez. One of them blew himself up on the fourth floor of the building during the operation, while two others were shot dead on the rooftop, he said.
Meanwhile, APP quoted UN deputy spokesman Farhan Aziz Haq as condemning the attack in response to a question.
He said: “We condemn all terrorist attacks and we send condolences to the families of the victims of the attack and to the government of Pakistan.”
Footage shared on social media, though unverified, showed flames and smoke emitting from the top floor of the highrise, with the sound of an explosion and a man uttering ‘God is great’ while cautioning people to stay away and that another blast might occur.
Both tracks of the busy Sharea Faisal, which links the city centre with airport, remained shut for traffic for hours during the clearance operation.
According to Rangers’ spokesperson, an officer of brigadier rank led the anti-terrorist operation during which all five floors of the building were cleared at night.
In a statement, police spokesperson said this was a major operation, which was completed by DIGs of RRF, South and East, respectively, as well as Rangers and army personnel.
During the operation, according to the police, one terrorist blew up an explosive jacket while the police firing left his two accomplices others dead.
Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah also reached the Command and Control Centre at IGP office after receiving information about the attack and monitored the operation.
He directed the DIGs concerned and the Rangers officers to send personnel from their respective zones to the site.
Police surgeon Dr Summaiya Syed said that three bodies of law enforcers and a civilian were brought at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre. She said the martyred officials were identified as police constable Ghulam Abbas and Rangers sub-inspector Taimur, while the identity of another police official could not be ascertained immediately.
A civilian, Ajmal Masih, was also among the deceased, the police surgeon added.
The Rangers spokesperson later said the martyred SI Taimur originally hailed from Multan, adding that their six personnel were also injured during the operation.
According Dr Syed, some of the injured were identified as Edhi worker Sajid, Rangers personnel Abdul Raheem, Imran, Tahir, Umair, Abdul Latif and Aftab, and policemen Latif, Abdul Khaliq, Rizwan, Haji Abdul Razzaq and Sarab.
In a late night statement, the CM appreciated the professional capabilities of the policemen saying: “Our law enforcers demonstrated their courage and bravery and got the KPO cleared.” He said police, Rangers and other law enforcement agencies personnel demonstrated their bravery by killing all the terrorists. He said he was happy to see the whole nation was united against terrorists.
He also expressed deep sorrow over the loss of lives and said, “We would never let the heirs of the martyred alone.”
Later, he directed the police to get Sharea Faisal opened for traffic.
Earlier in the evening, foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari while condemning the attack said: “Sindh police have bravely faced and crushed terrorism before. We have full faith they will do so again, such cowardly attacks will not deter us.”
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, meanwhile, told Geo News that the federal government was in touch with the Sindh police.
He said he had spoken to the chief secretary and IGP who confirmed that six to seven terrorists entered the building by hurling a hand grenade after parking the vehicle. Since a general security threat existed following the Peshawar mosque attack, all the institutions were fully alert across the country, he said.
Published in Dawn, February 18th, 2023