Pakistani Taliban militants attacked an air force base in the country’s restive northwest at dawn, their first high-profile commando-style assault in months.
The army said attackers tried to storm a compound at the base near Peshawar, the gateway to the tribal regions on the Afghan border that have long been a haven for militants.
Soldiers surrounded the attackers, confining them to a small area and killing 13 of them, according to military spokesman Maj-Gen Asim Bajwa.
“Seven to 10 terrorists tried to break deep in the base but troops managed to contain them,” Bajwa said in a tweet.
FIERCE GUN BATTLES
The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan group claimed responsibility in an email sent to journalists, saying its suicide unit carried out the attack.
The attack on the Badaber base, 10 kilometres south of Peshawar, triggered fierce gun battles between insurgents and the military in which at least 10 soldiers, including two officers, were wounded.
Bajwa said operations were continuing to flush out any remaining gunmen and praised the defenders.
“Entire response mechanism reacted quickly and effectively surrounded and confined terrorists in small area,” Bajwa said.
He said Peshawar’s Brigade Commander led the operation along with specialist quick response forces, army commandos and air force personnel.
Sabitullah Khan, a labourer who lives nearby, said a wall of his house collapsed under the force of grenade blasts.
“It was horrifying to hear the blasts and firing,” he said.
Another resident, Kifayatullah, who runs a grocery store near the camp, said the attack “began with a grenade explosion and intense gunfire while we were saying dawn prayers in a mosque”.
“It was next to impossible to come out of the mosque. We jumped from the window and escaped,” he said.
A senior air force official said the facility attacked was a residential camp for military personnel.