Most hostages freed after deadly Pakistan army HQ siege

by Masroor Gilani

RAWALPINDI, October 11, 2009 (AFP) – Three hostages and four militants were killed early Sunday as Pakistani troops stormed a building to end an almost 20-hour siege outside army headquarters near Islamabad, officials said. At least 25 people had been snatched by suspected Taliban gunmen, who tried to storm the nuclear-armed nation’s military command centre in the garrison city of Rawalpindi before barricading themselves in an office just outside.

The attack at the heart of Pakistan’s military establishment had already left four militants and six soldiers dead, and comes as Taliban attacks surge ahead of an army operation into their stronghold along the Afghan border.

“Twenty-five hostages have been freed. Three hostages and four terrorists were killed in the rescue operation,” military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told AFP. “Clearance operations are going on.”

“Security forces entered the building. There was resistance and an exchange of fire,” he also told the private TV channel Geo.

An AFP reporter at the scene heard two explosions and gunshots at about 6:00 am (0000 GMT) Sunday, after soldiers spent the night surrounding the building. Military ambulances were moving about inside army headquarte