‘No breakthrough’ in talks: Tense situation prevails in Bannu after militants seize CTD centre – Pakistan

Talks between the government and militants — who took over the Bannu Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) compound a day earlier — did not result in any breakthrough despite the lapse of almost 15 hours.

On Sunday, detained militants inside the CTD facility took over its compound, held interrogators hostage and demanded safe evacuation to Afghanistan.

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 deputy commissioner of Bannu said that schools — both government and private — in the district would remain closed on December 20, Tuesday.

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”.

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 (SACM) Barrister Muhammad Ali Saif said the situation was at a standstill and there there was no breakthrough as yet.

Speaking to Dawn.com, 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.

Separately in a tweet, Saif clarified that the government would not fulfil any demand of the terrorists.

He said that the “beleaguered terrorists” wanted to get the public’s sympathy through messages.

The SACM said it would be better for the armed persons to lay down their weapons, warning that “strict action” would be taken against them otherwise. He concluded that elements involved in terrorist activities would “not be treated lightly”.

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