Security forces rescue all hostages detained at CTD Bannu compound, all terrorists killed, two SSG commandos martyred: Khawaja Asif
Says 15 SSG personnel, including an officer, got injured
Joint session of the parliament passes several bills
ISLAMABAD ( Web News )
Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif on Tuesday informed the joint session of Parliament that security forces, in a successful operation, got all the hostages released, detained in Counter-Terrorism Department’s (CTD) compound in Bannu by terrorists.
At the outset, The Joint Session of the Parliament offered fateha for the departed souls of various people, including grandmother of Deputy Speaker Zahid Akram Durrani, martyred officials of security forces, who laid their lives in the line of duty in defence of the country, and 12 other people, died in a cylinder blast in Balochistan. The House also prayed for early recovery of the injured.
Speaking in the Parliament, Khawaja Asif said the Special Service Group of Pakistan Army started operation at 12:30 PM on Tuesday and got the compound cleared by 2:30 PM. He said all the terrorists were killed in the operation.
The Defence Minister further said that two security officials embraced martyrdom in the operation, while around 15 SSG personnel, including an officer, got injured.
“By 2:30pm, the SSG had cleared the compound. All the hostages have been freed,” the minister said. The defence minister also mentioned that the militants were not part of one group, rather they belonged to different banned outfits.
The minister added that there were 33 arrested terrorists inside the compound and one of them overpowered a man stationed at the centre. He then snatched his weapon and later the terrorists took over the centre, Khawaja Asif said.
According to a private TV channel, terrorists affiliated with the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban (Pakistan (TTP) were involved in the incident and in a bid to end the standoff, the Pakistani government initiated talks with the militant group’s leadership. The terrorists were demanding a safe air route to Afghanistan.
“The unfortunate side of this incident is that terrorism is once again rearing its head, especially in KP and Balochistan. Incidents have taken place in other provinces, but in these two provinces, we have seen clear evidence.”
The defence minister also mentioned that the militants were not part of one group, rather they belonged to different banned outfits.
The defence minister mentioned that the provincial government — which oversees the CTD — has “completely failed” in carrying out its responsibility.
“The entire provincial government was a hostage of Imran Khan in Zaman Park. On the other hand, innocent people in KP were made hostage [by terrorists],” he said.
Khawaja Asif added that even when floods hit KP, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led government — which is in power for the last nine years — has repeatedly failed to live up to the expectations.
“But this, this is an ‘utter failure’. Ultimately, our security forces had to get involved and sacrifice their lives […] the provincial government had no role in it whatsoever. This is a failure of nine years, not six months or a year,” he said.
Khawaja Asif said Imran Khan even uses the helicopters of the provincial government. “He is also thinking to come into power once again and destroy anything that is left,” the minister said.
The defence minister slammed the KP government further and said that it was at a “complete collapse”.
The defence minister criticised PTI Chairman Imran Khan and called the incident a “total collapse” of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government.
“The unfortunate aspect of this is that terrorism is again making strides in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan,” he said. [Terrorism] incidents have taken places in other provinces as well but there is clear evidence that terrorists from across the border or locally are rising again [in KP and Balochistan].
“These 33 were under arrest regarding this situation and they had a link with multiple groups. The provincial government completely failed in its responsibility regarding the CTD [compound takeover.”
Khawaja Asif credited the army for the operation, adding that the provincial government had “no role” in it. “This is a failure of the provincial government there and the failure of nine years.” “It is a total collapse of the KP government,” he said.
Earlier on Tuesday, footage aired on TV channels showed plumes of smoke rising in the air from the CTD compound as the operation was under way.
The attack on the compound has been claimed by the TTP as the banned outfit confirmed in a statement released on Monday that its members had taken several CTD and security personnel hostages.
The group’s spokesperson said that in an earlier video statement, the hostage takers had demanded a safe exit but mistakenly mentioned Afghanistan since they were not aware of ground realities.
The militants inside the seized CTD centre had also released several videos on Monday, asking the people of Bannu, especially the ulema, to come forward and resolve the standoff between the militants and law enforcers through dialogue.
In a video clip, a detainee declared himself ‘innocent’ and said along with the Taliban militants and officials taken hostage by the militants, several innocents were also present inside the compound.
In the video, he said that the elders and the ulema of Bannu should intervene to avoid bloodshed and settle the standstill in a peaceful manner. “The people and army are ours and the Taliban wanted to go outside [the compound] to kill people, but we stopped them,” he added.
In another video clip, several armed militants could be seen roaming and taking positions inside the compound.
In a video released from CTD centre in Bannu, one of the individuals in the video has been identified as Commander Zarrar, who had been under custody. Zarrar had merged his group with TTP and it was still unclear what he was doing in the CTD centre even though he was in custody since January 2022.
Meanwhile the joint session of the parliament passed several bills. These include: “The Global Change Impact Studies Centre (Amendment) Bill, 2022”, “The Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2022”, “The Pakistan Nursing Council (Amendment) Bill, 2022” relating to registration and training of nurses, midwives and Lady Health Visitors, “The State-Owned Enterprises (Governance and Operations) Bill, 2022”, “The Pakistan Global Institute Bill, 2022”, “The Regulation of Generation, Transmission and Distribution of Electric Power (Amendment) Bill, 2022”, “The Islamabad Capital Territory Prohibition of Interest on Private Loans Bill, 2022”, “The Islamabad Compulsory Vaccination and Protection of Health Workers Bill, 2022”, “The Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) Bill, 2022” and “The Pakistan Medical and Dental Council Bill, 2022”. Speaker National Assembly Raja Pervaiz Ashraf prorogued the Joint Sitting of the parliament.