SSG Diary’s: Afghan Embassy Hostage Crisis

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The Situation

3 armed gunmen, 16 hostages, a foreign embassy, and a dramatic special force rescue operation that lasted 20 seconds.

Introduction

On February 23, 1994, three Afghan men hijacked a bus full of teachers and students, quickly driving it to the Afghan embassy in Pakistan. Taking them hostage demanding money, food, and safe ride back to Afghanistan. Negotiations failed and it was clear that the special forces will have to participate in a rescue operation.

The Hijacking

Three masked gunmen hijacked a school bus in the Peshawar city- in a bid to demand a big sum of money and food from the Pakistani government. The heavily armed gunmen moved with the hostages towards the Afghan embassy in Islamabad using the hijacked school bus. After reaching the destination they took refuge within the Afghan embassy along with the hostages including 15 students and one male teacher. They had previously released 55 boys and six female teachers after detaining them for several hours during negotiations.

The Demands

The incident took place in response to Pakistan’s decision to close its border during the same month due to renewed fighting in Afghanistan between factions in Kabul which would have prompted another big influx of Afghan refugees into Pakistan(Pakistan already had over 3.5 million Afghan refugees at that time). They demanded a huge sum of money be handed over to them and a safe passage via a helicopter to Afghanistan. They additionally demanded food aid to be sent to Afghanistan.

The Negotiations

The armed gunmen initially demanded $500,000, but later raised the ransom demand to $5 million while threatening to shoot a hostage every half an hour. They also demanded “truckloads of food” to be sent to Kabul, where the heavy fighting has resulted in food shortages.

The Pakistani interior minister Nasirullah Babar initially offered to meet their demands for 2000 truckloads of food/Medicine aid to war-shattered Kabul and a safe passage back to Afghanistan but refused the ransom demand after the gunmen had raised it to 5 million and threatened to execute the hostages. Nasirullah Babar explained that they want the money for themselves and we will not give it for their personal gain. During the ongoing negotiations, Pakistani police officers disguised as waiters entered the premises to deliver the daily food. Quietly observing the situation and analyzing their weaknesses and locating possible entry points for the rescue operation.

The Rescue Operation

As negotiations were not arriving at a decisive conclusion all options were placed on the table, including an armed forced entry to rescue the hostages and capture/kill the gunmen. Extensive meetings were held where planning was carried out taking all variables into consideration such as the weapons used by targets, the rooms where hostages are being held, and possible entry points for quick action for the safety of the hostages.

According to Interior Secretary

“They were heavily armed with firearms and grenades so had to be incapacitated immediately to prevent them using these weapons against hostages ”

On Monday night, 30 Pakistani commandos of the SSG special forces started casually walking around the embassy in civilian clothing evaluating the situation and finally getting into designated positions. Soon the assault began as they stormed the Afghan Embassy rescuing all 16 hostages unharmed and eliminated all three terrorists in an operation that lasted for just 20 seconds.

Commandos of the Special Services Group (SSG) began the assault with a stun grenade immediately after which storming the embassy points. The stun grenade had both blinded two of the armed gunmen and diverted away the attention of third from the hostages. As the SSG commandoes rushed in breaking windows and from other entry points they got into contact with the two stunned gunmen immediately taking them out and giving a room clear sign ready to confront the third. By that time, the third was alert and ready to resist started to fire a burst of rounds by was also taken out by a 9mm headshot. Finally, all hostages were rescued; all terrorists were eliminated. Overall operation was swiftly executed within just 20 seconds, ending a 36 hours’ crisis.

Long Live Pakistan

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