Police and paramilitary Rangers on Friday night cleared a five-storey police compound in Karachi that had been infiltrated by militants of the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in an hours-long operation that recalled the deadly attack at a mosque in Peshawar’s Police Lines last month.
According to police officials, one militant detonated a suicide vest while two others were gunned down in a shootout during the clearance operation. They said four people, including two policemen, a Rangers personnel and a civilian, were martyred in the attack, while 19 others were injured. The banned TTP swiftly claimed responsibility, with a spokesman saying they would release more details later.
The attack on the Karachi Police Office (KPO), a large compound that houses dozens of administrative and residential buildings as well as hundreds of officers and their families, began around 7 p.m. on Friday night, with the assailants infiltrating the high-security area through a nearby mosque. After entering the building, the militants started hurling grenades and opened indiscriminate fire on people inside and outside the building, triggering a shootout that panicked local residents and raised anew fears of resurgent terrorism. The clearance operation continued for over 4 hours, concluding around 10:45 p.m. with the deaths of all the attackers. Throughout, police sealed off the nearby Shara-e-Faisal, a major artery, to avoid any civilian casualties.
During the operation, the windows of the upper storeys of the KPO were blown out after one of the attackers detonated explosives on the fourth floor of the building. In a statement, a police spokesperson said the “major” operation had included the participation of Rangers, Army personnel, as well as police forces of the Rapid Respond Force and the south and east districts of the Sindh capital.
Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah monitored the operation from the Command and Control Center at the IGP’s office. In a statement issued after the successful clearance of the KPO, he hailed the professional capabilities of policemen. “Our law enforcers demonstrated their courage and bravery and got the KPO cleared,” he said, adding all forces participating in the operation had demonstrated their bravery by killing all the terrorists. Expressing sorrow over the loss of lives, he vowed to “never let the heirs of the martyred alone.”
Speaking with Geo News, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said all institutions had been prepared for any eventuality because of the Peshawar mosque attack, which had raised the general security threat nationwide. Defense Minister Khawaja Asif, meanwhile, said it was time to move past condemnations and take “strict action” against militants without any distinction.
In a statement on Twitter, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari—whose Pakistan Peoples Party is in government in Sindh—condemned the attack. “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,” he wrote.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif similarly condemned the attack and lauded the police and law enforcement personnel who had foiled it. “Terrorists may have forgotten that Pakistan is the nation which defeated terrorism with its bravery and courage,” he wrote on Twitter. “Pakistan will not only uproot terrorism, but will kill all terrorists and bring 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 added.