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Hostages successfully freed by Pakistani security forces, siege ends

FOLLOWED by several explosions, Pakistani military commandos early today launched a mop-up operation against a group of armed militants inside the military headquarters.

Xinhua reporters saw that the main roads leading to the General Headquarters (GHQ) had been cordoned off by security forces and all lights were turned off along the Mall Road in front of the GHQ.

No civilian vehicles were allowed in the restricted area but military convoys carrying commandos were passing quickly.

Intermittent firing continued for about 40 minutes. And the inside of the main entrance of the GHQ was guarded by military commandos and the outside by police elite and anti-terrorist squad members.

About 30 minutes after the start of the operation, several ambulances were seen coming out of the GHQ, taking injured hostages to a nearby military hospital.

The operation, which started at 6:00 am local time (0000 GMT), ended with head of the group, Aqeel alias Dr Usmand, arrested with injuries and four other militants killed.

The military said that 42 hostages were recovered and three were killed. Two security forces personnel were killed and two others were injured in the operation, it said.

The security forces personnel were having breakfast, looking relaxed after the operation.

At 9:05 local time (0305 GMT), another series of explosions came from the GHQ, but the security forces said that the blasts were from destruction of explosives of the militants.

Army helicopters were also seen hovering over the army headquarters as the commandos launched pre-dawn operation.

Yesterday, a group of over 10 armed militants, wearing army uniforms, attacked two army check posts and killed six soldiers, and then held several security men hostage at the army headquarters.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik today congratulated on the successful operation to get hostages free. He confirmed that four terrorists were killed in the morning operation.

He said that the attackers had been living in a house in the outskirts of Islamabad for two months and had planned the attack there.

Pakistani Taliban have claimed responsibility for the attack, which also killed six soldiers including two ranking officers.


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