Islamabad: Talks between the government and militants who took over the Bannu Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) compound in Pakistan a day earlier did not result in any breakthrough despite the lapse of almost 15 hours, the media reported.
On Sunday, detained militants inside the CTD facility took over its compound, held interrogators hostage and demanded safe evacuation to Afghanistan, the Dawn reported.
The situation in Bannu remained tense on Monday as police and security agencies cordoned off the cantonment area — where the facility is located — and asked residents to stay indoors. Internet and mobile phone services were also suspended in the area.
The outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the incident. In a statement, a spokesperson for the militant group said that its members had taken CTD staff and security officials as hostage. He added that the militants — in a previous video statement — had demanded safe passage but “mistakenly mentioned Afghanistan”, Dawn reported.
He further said the group had spoken to government officials overnight and asked them to “shift the prisoners” to either South or North Waziristan, but lamented that they had not received a positive response so far.
Meanwhile, Special Assistant to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Barrister Muhammad Ali Saif said the situation was at a standstill and there there was no breakthrough as yet.
Saif also said that he was constantly in contact with the Taliban. “I spoke to the Taliban high-ups through the night,” he said, admitting that talks had not been fruitful thus far.
He also confirmed that a security official was killed in the Bannu compound by the militants but did not elaborate further. He said the government had engaged the militants to avoid casualties.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, which is at the helm in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, did not directly address the matter but party chairman Imran Khan criticised the federal government in a series of tweets over what he described as its failure to deal with the growing terrorism threat, Dawn reported.
“Apart from running our economy to the ground, this imported government has failed to deal with the 50 per cent increase in terrorism in Pakistan with incidents from Chaman to Swat to Lakki Marwat to Bannu,” Imran said.