The office of the Karachi police chief, which came under an audacious attack from heavily-armed Pakistani Taliban terrorists, has been cleared, officials said on Saturday while confirming that three attackers and as many security personnel lost their lives.
Security lapses are being blamed for the attack carried out by terrorists of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) on the Karachi Police Office (KPO) building on Friday.
A senior police official who did not want to be named said it appeared as if the attack was carried out to send a message to law enforcement agencies.
”They had definitely come prepared for a long standoff as food packages have also been found in their bags and at same time the attack is apparently a message that we are close,” he said.
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In an hours-long operation, police commandos and paramilitary soldiers cleared the Karachi Police Office (KPO) of terrorists, who stormed the five-storey building in the country’s most populous city on Friday evening.
A senior police official, who was part of the team leading the operation, told the Dawn newspaper that there were three attackers who arrived at the KPO in a white car. One of the attackers blew himself up on the building’s fourth floor while two others were shot dead on the roof.
“I can so far confirm that the Karachi Police Office (KPO) building has been cleared. Three terrorists have been neutralised,” Sindh government spokesperson Murtaza Wahab tweeted.
According to the official figures released by Wahab, three terrorists were killed and four others, including two police constables, a rangers soldier, were also killed in the intense gun fight that took place for nearly three hours.
Wahab said 19 people mostly police and rangers personnel were also injured and were under treatment at the Jinnah hospital.
The terrorists allegedly entered the building by climbing the rear wall and the three security checkposts at the city police chief’s office were not manned at the time of the attack.
“Barbed wire, on the rear wall of the KPO, was also cut,” they said, adding there are no CCTV cameras installed to monitor the building from the Shahrae Faisal side, the Geo News reported.
The law enforcement agencies identified three terrorists involved in the attack. Two of the terrorists belonged to North Waziristan while one is from Lakki Marwat, both are tribal areas.
The terrorists were carrying bags that contained food items and were equipped with lethal weapons, including AK-47 which showed they had a long-term plan but they never got the chance, a senior police official said.
DIG South Irfan Baloch said the terrorists had attacked the complex from two to three sides. Police also rescued the trapped 40-50 police officials and staff, he said.
Officials said that after the incident, security has been beefed up at all police stations and other sensitive areas and buildings in Karachi.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif condemned the attack and appreciated the police and security forces for their effective action against the terrorists.
“Terrorists have perhaps forgotten that Pakistan is the nation which defeated terrorism with its bravery and courage,” he tweeted.
Pakistan will not only uproot terrorism but will also kill the terrorists by bringing them to justice. In the last two decades, this nation fought terrorism with its own blood, this great nation is determined to end this evil forever even in this time of trial,” he said.
President 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,” he said.
The outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement issued by its spokesperson Mohammad Khurasani.
The attack comes as a big concern and embarrassment for the provincial government as the Karachi Police Chief office and the Saddar police station are located on the main Shahrah-e-Faisal road which serves as Karachi’s main thoroughfare with a number of strategic installations, including the Pakistan Airforce’s Faisal Base — and five-star hotels in close proximity.
Overseas cricket players who are currently competing in the Pakistan Super League are staying in these hotels with Karachi to host matches on Saturday and Sunday.
But the Sindh Chief Minister, Syed Murad Ali Shah said the PSL matches would not be affected by the incident.
Najam Sethi, the Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board, said the matches would continue on schedule as presidential security was in place for the players and officials since the start of the league.
“The PSL matches will continue on schedule. All the players are being well looked after,” he said.
Another board official said the security agencies and government had also given clearance for the PSL matches to continue in Karachi until the scheduled February 27.
“The incident which happened yesterday is unrelated to the PSL,” he said.
Two matches of the PSL are scheduled at the National Stadium in Karachi on Saturday and Sunday and security has been beefed up at the hotels and at the match venue.
Since the ceasefire agreement between the TTP and government broke down last year in November, terrorists have stepped up attacks on security forces and installations and even on mosques and markets in different parts of the country but Karachi has for some time now not witnessed any major incident.
The last major incident took place in June 2020 when four militants of the banned insurgent group Baloch Liberation Army attacked the Karachi Stock Exchange, killing three people. The terrorists killed themselves as they unsuccessfully tried to enter the stock exchange premises.
In 2014, the TTP also struck at the Jinnah International Airport’s old terminal in which 24 lives were lost and property damaged.