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Over two dozen militants killed in Pakistan army raid

Pakistan’s security forces have killed 25 of 35 terrorists holed up in a counter-terrorism centre in the northwestern city of Bannu, while one hostage and two commandos died in the operation to retake the compound, the army said.

Militants being held at the centre took control of the compound on Sunday after overpowering their interrogators and taking their weapons, leading to a two day siege and ultimately army commandoes storming the compound on Tuesday.

Army spokesman Major General Ahmed Sharif speaking to local TV channel late on Tuesday said seven of the 35 holed up militants surrendered, and another three who tried to escape were arrested. One hostage, a security official, died during the raid, he said.

The army spokesman’s comments provided the first detailed official account of the standoff, in which two security personnel were killed when the militants first took over the compound, and two commandoes killed in the ensuing raid.

He said one militant was able to first overpower his interrogator with a brick and seize his weapon. Later other militants at the centre broke into a storeroom where confiscated weapons had been stored.

“We tried very hard to get them (militants) to surrender unconditionally. They weren’t ready,” Sharif said, adding that they wanted safe passage to Afghanistan, which was rejected by authorities.

READ MORE: Militants capture counter-terrorism centre in Pakistan, take hostages

Fierce firefight

After talks failed to resolve a two-day standoff, army commandos stormed the centre on Tuesday. Ten soldiers, including three officers, were also wounded.

Sharif described the raid being a fierce firefight. Earlier, residents said they heard explosions coming from the vicinity of the centre on Tuesday as helicopters hovered overhead.

The militants mostly belonged to Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), an umbrella group of militants and sectarian groups that are loosely affiliated with the Afghan Taliban.

The TTP has ramped up attacks in recent weeks since announcing the end of an Afghan Taliban-brokered ceasefire with Islamabad last month.

The TTP initially confirmed the militants’ demand to be given passage to Afghanistan, but later said Pakistan’s former tribal regions were also safe for the militants to flee to. 

READ MORE: Pakistani forces retake anti-terrorism centre seized by TTP militants

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