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On December 19, 2022, a day after jihadi inmates took over a Pakistani government Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) facility in the town of Bannu in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province – the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) issued a statement calling on the Pakistani government to grant the inmates safe passage.
Initial reports indicated that armed jihadis had captured the CTD prison facility from outside, but later reports said that jihadi inmates inside the facility had seized weapons from military and prison officials and taken them captive on Sunday, December 18. Talks between the TTP and Pakistani officials did not yield results on December 19, the English-language Pakistani daily Dawn reported, adding: "The cantonment area [in Bannu] – where the facility was located – has been sealed and the residents have been asked to stay indoors."
In a separate incident, jihadis attacked the Burgi police station in Lakki Marwat district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa early on December 18, killing four police officers and wounding as many others. The attack on the Burgi police station occurred when about 60 police officers were on duty at midnight between December 17-18.
In its statement about the CTD siege, the TTP noted that the jihadi inmates had sought safe passage to Afghanistan because, having been imprisoned, they were unaware that the TTP had occupied several areas of the Pakistani tribal region bordering Afghanistan. The TTP said it has proposed that the mujahideen inmates be given safe passage to either North or South Waziristan.
The TTP statement in Urdu.
Following is a translation of the TTP statement:
"The Statement Of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Regarding The Bannu CTD Incident
"The oppressed prisoners in the jail of Bannu CTD, among whom are most of our mujahideen colleagues, have made a decision following extreme atrocities which are in front of the Pakistani nation. The prisoners have taken many military officers and prison officials as captives.
"Their utmost effort since last night [i.e., the night of Sunday, December 18] is that they be granted safe passage, but the military is stuck to its ego that it will grant them safe passage. Because of having lived in secret detention centers for many years. they are not fully aware of the current situation, therefore they [the prisoners] have talked about [receiving safe passage to] Afghanistan.
"All praise be to Allah, at this time many widespread areas in the tribal regions [of Pakistan] are in our occupation where the mujahideen leadership is present in large numbers; we do not need the land of Afghanistan. During the night, talks have been held with government officials that these prisoners be transferred to North or South Waziristan, but they have not given any positive response.
"On the other hand, [the military officials] have stopped people from leaving their homes by sealing the cantonment area [military camp]. It appears that the military is determined to carry out an operation [against the prisoners, who have taken hostages].
"Our appeal to the Pakistani people, including political and social leaders, is that the only way to save the military and prison personnel there is to transfer these prisoners, as per their demand, to North or South Waziristan; whereas, the military is not concerned about anyone's lives, its goal is to protect its pride and ego.
"Otherwise, the military will be responsible for all damages [resulting from any fighting]. Because, in the case of the imprisoned mujahideen not being given a safe passage, they have been given [prior] directions not to accept [sweet] talk by the military, not to surrender till the last moment, but rather to keep fighting fully. The military's history is full of treachery and atrocity.
"Bear in mind that regarding the Bannu jail, the government engages in media propaganda that this weapon has come from Afghanistan. There is no truth to this point. The prisoners, under the influence of their religious zeal and fervor have snatched weapons from the military and have taken them captives.
"December 19, 2022 / Jamadiul Awwal 25, 1444 H"
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