Rawalpindi, Pakistan: Commandos stormed Pakistan’s army headquarters on Sunday ending a day-long hostage drama and freeing 39 people held by militants.
Three hostages, two soldiers and four suspected Taliban militants were killed in the rescue operation, hailed by the military as “highly successful”.
Overall, 19 people, including eight soldiers and eight militants, were killed in the nearly 24-hour siege that began on Saturday in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, which adjoins the capital Islamabad. It was the third militant strike in the nuclear-armed nation in a week.
The audacious attack exposed Pakistan’s vulnerability in the face of a Taliban militia who have regrouped after the death of their leader and are determined to thwart an army assault on their tribal hideouts, analysts said.
In London, US secretary of state Hillary Clinton said the attack showed the scale of the threat faced by Pakistan but voiced confidence that the country’s nuclear weapons were properly secured.
Military spokesman major general Athar Abbas said troops went in at about 6.00am and met resistance from five militants armed with suicide vests and barricaded in the building. “Thirty-nine hostages were rescued and three were killed,” Abbas told AFP, adding that the captives were shot dead by the militants.
The leader of the militant team escaped and detonated a number of explosives before being injured and arrested.