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19 Dec, 2022 18:20

Taliban prisoners overpower compound guards

At least one counter-terrorism officer has been killed in a hostage incident in Pakistan
Taliban prisoners overpower compound guards

At least 30 Pakistani Taliban (TTP) prisoners at a counterterrorism detention facility have overpowered their captors and taken as many as ten hostages in a standoff that began on Sunday and has continued for over 12 hours, according to Pakistani officials. 

The detainees reportedly seized weapons from police as they were being interrogated, and at least one official was killed in the struggle. 

Police and the military have surrounded the outpost, located in the Bannu district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, and negotiations with the hostage-takers are reportedly ongoing. The militants are demanding safe passage to North or South Waziristan, according to TTP spokesperson Mohammad Khurasani, who explained that their initial demand to be airlifted to Afghanistan was due to an outdated understanding of the areas currently under the group’s control. 

In a video posted to social media, confirmed to be from the scene by a government official, one of a group of armed men threatens to kill the hostages if the prisoners are not given safe passage to the border areas. “Otherwise, the entire responsibility of the situation will be on the military,” the TTP said in a statement.  

A senior government official confirmed the hostage-takers’ demands, telling AFP: “They want us to provide them safe passage via a ground route or by air. They want to take all the hostages with them and to release them later on the Afghan border or inside Afghanistan.”  

Estimates of the number of hostages vary, with one intelligence officer telling Reuters there are six – four military and two counter-terrorism officials – while a video posted by the TTP to social media claims “at least eight.” Other officials have put the number as high as ten.

Pakistani officials have sought help with the situation from Afghanistan, though a senior government official told AFP that “practically no progress” had been made as of Monday night.

While TTP is a separate group from the Afghan Taliban, it espouses a similar Islamic fundamentalist ideology. A ceasefire between the group and the Pakistani government ended last month, and the group took credit for the killing of four policemen in a nearby district on Saturday.