KARACHI: Major lapses were identified in the security arrangements at the Karachi Police Office (KPO) — a building in the heart of the city’s main thoroughfare — that saw one of the deadliest terror attacks led by three militants on Friday.
All the assailants were gunned down, while four persons, including two cops and a Sindh Rangers sub-inspector, embraced martyrdom in the gun fight that raged for over four long hours. Meanwhile, 18 others including the police and Rangers personnel were also injured in the gun attack, the latest since the major suicide bombing at the Peshawar Civil Lines mosque that claimed 84 lives last month.
It emerged that there is no security gate to enter Police Lines Saddar, which is home to the families of policemen, Geo News reported.
Sources said that terrorists allegedly entered KPO by climbing the rear wall and the three security checkpoints at the city police chief’s office were not manned at the time of the attack.
“Barbed wire, on the rear wall of the KPO, was also cut,” they said, adding there are no CCTV cameras installed to monitor the building from the Sharae Faisal side.
Police investigators have collected evidence. The car in which the terrorists came is present at the Saddar police station.
All militants identified
East Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Muqaddas Haider, while talking to Geo News, said that all three terrorists were identified. One of the killed militants, Zala Noor — who blew himself up during the attack belonged to North Waziristan, Kifayatullah — who was gunned down in an exchange of fire — belonged to Lakki Marwat, while the third — whose name couldn’t be discovered — belonged to the Datakhel area of the North Waziristan.
The DIG said that two of the militants were eliminated on the rooftop of the KPO while the third on the fourth floor of the five-storey building.
LEAs clear KPO after militant attack
In an hours-long operation, police commandos and paramilitary soldiers cleared the Karachi Police Office of terrorists, who had stormed the building on Friday evening.
DIG East Muqadas Haider, DIG South Ifran Baloch, DIG Rapid Response Force (RRF) Nasir Aftab, Special Security Unit (SSU) and Sindh Rangers participated in the tense operation.
The Pakistan Army also assisted the law enforcers.
Sindh Inspector General of Police, Ghulam Nabi Memon, told The News that three terrorists had been killed in the operation. He claimed no advanced terror threat information to the Karachi Police Office.
Following the attack, the IGP ordered extraordinary security measures at the police headquarters across Sindh. He also ordered expanding the intelligence network.
Officials said the terrorists reached the premises of the KPO situated near the FTC Building on Sharae Faisal in a white Corolla car around 7pm.
They approached the KPO from the Saddar Police Station. When police officials on duty asked the occupants to identify themselves, they opened fire and lobbed a grenade at the main gate of the KPO, forcing the policemen to take cover and retaliate.
Soon afterwards, commandos sprang into action to counter the terrorists, who had now entrenched themselves in the five-storeyed police installation.
They were soon joined by several officials from the East and South police regions and Ranges who cordoned off the area by blocking both tracks of the busy Sharae Faisal from the FTC to Regent Plaza. They also took positions at the Police Lines where the residential quarters of policemen are located. By that time, a fierce gunbattle had already ensued.
As the attackers moved from one floor to the next at the KPO, the lights were switched off. A large contingent of police and special forces rushed inside the police complex.
The commandos continued the operation against the terrorists clearing the KPO floors from the mezzanine to the fourth floor.
As the terrorists rushed to the rooftop of the building after fleeing the emergent police action, the SSU snipers deployed on the nearby buildings and SSU commandos engaged them. Another batch of SSU commandos evacuated the injured personnel from the building during the firing.
‘Terrorists were equipped with lethal weapons’
Talking to The News, DIG Muqadas Haider, who entered the KPO with cops, said they had killed two terrorists, besides the one killed by the Rangers troops. He added that two terrorists were killed on the rooftop, while one blew himself up on the 4th floor.
DIG Haider said terrorists were also carrying bags that contained food items and were equipped with lethal weapons, including AK-47 which showed they had a long-term plan but they never got the chance.
DIG South Irfan Baloch said the terrorists had attacked the complex from two to three sides. Police also rescued the trapped 40-50 police officials and staff, he said.
Towards the end, personnel of the Bomb Disposal Squad cleared the building by defusing suicide jackets that two of the killed terrorists were wearing.
Security heightened across Karachi
Officials said that after the incident, security had been beefed up at all police stations and other sensitive areas and buildings in Karachi.
A strict vigil has been ordered at the police stations across the city.