1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Pakistani special forces free officers held by Taliban

December 20, 2022

After talks broke down, Pakistani security forces stormed a counter-terrorism center to free officials held hostage by Taliban militants.

Police stand guard along a road in Bannu
Police stand guard along a road they blocked near the the counter-terrorism center in BannuImage: Karim Ullah/AFP/Getty Images

Pakistani security forces on Tuesday retook control of a counter-terrorism interrogation center in the northwestern city of Bannu, where a group of officers was being held hostage by fighters from the Pakistani Taliban, known as the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

According to Defense Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif, all 33 hostage-takers were killed in a clearance operation in which two special forces troops also died.

"All the hostages have been freed," the Pakistani minister said. "Ten to 15 men from the SSG [special forces] including an officer were wounded while two were martyred."

Talks failed

The operation came after the detainees, who were held for years at the center in Bannu, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, overpowered their guards on Sunday, seized their weapons and took them hostage.

On Monday, one officer at the center was reported killed by the hostage-takers.

The operation was launched after negotiations with Pakistani Taliban leaders to end the hostage situation failed to yield a breakthrough.

According to a provincial government spokesman, the militants had demanded safe passage to Afghanistan.

Deadly border clashes between Afghanistan and Pakistan

Who are the TTP?

Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is loosely allied with the Afghan Taliban, who seized power in neighboring Afghanistan last year.

The TTP, which has stepped up attacks since it announced the end of an Afghan Taliban-brokered ceasefire with the government last month, has long used violence in a bid to take over the country and enforce its harsh brand of Islam.

Bannu is close to North Waziristan, a region that long served as headquarters for militants linked to al Qaeda and the dreaded Haqqani network of Afghan Taliban.

dh/sms (dpa, AFP, Reuters)