The Pakistani military has bloodily ended a hostage situation at a prison for imprisoned terrorists in the north-west of the country. Special forces killed all 26 hostage-takers during the liberation operation in the unrest-ridden province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, as the German Press Agency learned from security circles. Several prisoners, soldiers and commando units were injured when the facility was stormed.

The actual liberation operation lasted a good hour, the taking of hostages significantly longer. Militant extremists had already stormed the prison on Sunday and taken several security forces into their power. The attackers wanted to free prisoners and force them to leave the country unmolested in neighboring Afghanistan, which has been under the control of the Islamist Taliban again since August 2021. According to security sources, the hostage-takers included supporters of the Pakistani Taliban (TTP).

The military operation was preceded by negotiations that ultimately failed. Long firefights followed, and explosions could also be heard, said a police officer. On the night of Tuesday, Pakistani soldiers also fended off a storm by dozens of attackers on a military post.

Conflicts with armed extremists have recently flared up again in Pakistan, after several years of relatively quiet activity in the region. At the end of November, the Pakistani Taliban declared the ceasefire agreed with the government in Islamabad in May to be over and called on their fighters to carry out attacks. The TTP is an umbrella organization of militant Islamist groups that is said to have several thousand fighters. The Pakistani military expelled them to Afghanistan between 2008 and 2014. Since the Afghan Taliban took power in Kabul, the TTP has regrouped in its former strongholds on the Afghan border.