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Hostages freed at Pakistani army headquarters


Rawalpindi : Nine people were killed in a dramatic hostage-rescue operation at Pakistan’s military headquarters, an army spokesman said Sunday.

Major General Athar Abbas said three hostages, two military commandos and four of the attackers died in the shootout that freed several hostages after an 18-hour standoff inside the army base.

“The operation is reaching to its logical conclusion,” Abbas said. “Twenty five hostages have been rescued from the building and four terrorists are killed.”

“The main focus of the operation was a suicide bomber who could have detonated the suicide vest he was wearing, but our soldiers killed him skilfully before he could pull the trigger,” he added.

Three captives – two civilian employees of the base and a soldier – died while three more were injured during the rescue attempt. Two commandos were also killed in the action.

At least one more militant was still believed to be holed up in the building. “The security forces are inside the building, and they are continuing with the mopping-up operation,” Abbas said.

Earlier, sound of explosions and gunfire rang out when the troops moved into the building shortly before dawn. Ambulances were later seen rushing to the nearest hospital.

Militants wearing military uniforms took more than two dozen soldiers and civilian employees on the army base captive inside a security office near the compound, in a daring midday raid Saturday that left six soldiers and four attackers dead.

A brigadier and a lieutenant colonel were among the dead, an intelligence official said requesting anonymity.

The brazen raid followed by 19-hour siege comes as Pakistani security forces are preparing for a major offensive against Taliban insurgents in South Waziristan, a lawless tribal district along the Afghan border.

Insurgents have intensified recent attacks on civilian, official and foreign targets.

On Friday, a suicide bomber detonated his explosives-laden car in a busy commercial area of Peshawar, killing 53 people and injuring more than 100.

Six days ago, a suicide bomber dressed as a paramilitary soldier killed five employees of the UN’s World Food Programme in an attack on its offices in Islamabad.