Pakistan police battle militants after deadly airport raid

Six people were killed Sunday as police and troops battled militants armed with automatic weapons, grenades and mortars in northwest Pakistan's Peshawar, a day after a deadly Taliban raid on the city's airport.

Fierce firing broke out after police acting on an intelligence report stormed a building near the airport, where a suicide and rocket attack on Saturday killed five civilians and five attackers and wounded 50 other people.

The assault late Saturday, claimed by the Pakistani Taliban, sparked prolonged gunfire and forced authorities to close the airport, a commercial hub and Pakistan Air Force (PAF) base in Peshawar on the edge of the tribal belt.

It was the second Islamist militant attack in four months on a military air base in nuclear-armed Pakistan. In August 11 people were killed when heavily-armed insurgents wearing suicide vests stormed a facility in the northwestern town of Kamra.

Police backed by troops launched a raid early Sunday on a building under construction near the airport following reports that five militants who fled after the airport attack had taken refuge there, said provincial information minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain.

In the subsequent shootout three militants and a policemen were killed, police said, while two other officers were wounded.

The clashes ended after six hours when the two remaining militants detonated their suicide vests inside the building, another senior police officer, Imtiaz Altaf, told AFP.

"All five militants are dead now and the area has been cleared," Altaf said.

"All of them were wearing suicide jackets. Three were killed in a shootout with police, while two others blew themselves up in the under-construction building."

A PAF statement said five attackers were killed on Saturday and no damage was done to air force personnel or equipment, though Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan claimed the assault had damaged "several helicopters and aircraft".

Doctor Umar Ayub, chief of Khyber Teaching Hospital near the airport, said five civilians had also been killed and some 50 wounded.

"The base is in total control and normal operations have resumed. The security alert was also raised on other PAF air bases as well," the air force added.

Peshawar airport is a joint military-civilian facility. Civil Aviation Authority spokesman Pervez George said the passenger side had reopened after an 18-hour closure and there was no damage to the terminals.

The air force said Saturday's attackers used two vehicles loaded with explosives, hand grenades, rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons. One vehicle was destroyed and the second badly damaged.

Security forces found three suicide jackets near one of the vehicles, it said.

"Security forces consisting of Pakistan Air Force and Army personnel who were on full alert, cordoned off the base and effectively repulsed the attack," the air force said.

Television pictures showed a vehicle with a smashed windscreen, another damaged car, bushes on fire and what appeared to be a large breach in a wall.

Five nearby houses were destroyed after rockets landed on them and several other houses developed cracks, while the bomb squad detonated five out of eight bombs found near the base after the attack.

Taliban spokesman Ehsan said the target was not the civilian airport but the military.

"Our target was jet fighter planes and gunship helicopters and soon we will target them again," he told AFP by telephone from an undisclosed location.

The armed forces have been waging a bloody campaign against the Taliban in the northwest in recent years and militants frequently attack military targets.

In May 2011 it took 17 hours to quell an assault claimed by the Taliban on an air base in Karachi.

Pakistan says more than 35,000 people have been killed as a result of terrorism in the country since the 9/11 attacks on the United States. Its forces have for years been battling homegrown militants in the northwest.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Anguished families make 'last visit' before Indonesia executions
    Anguished families make 'last visit' before Indonesia executions

    Relatives of two Australian drug smugglers on death row in Indonesia cried out in anguish as they arrived at a prison island Tuesday, in distressing scenes as they paid what could be their final visit to the condemned men ahead of their executions. Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, ringleaders of the so-called "Bali Nine" heroin-trafficking gang, are among eight foreign drug convicts who are expected to face the firing squad imminently after authorities gave them formal notice of their …

  • Celebrities urge Australia PM to do more to save execution pair
    Celebrities urge Australia PM to do more to save execution pair

    Celebrities including Oscar winner Geoffrey Rush released a video Tuesday urging Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott to fly to Indonesia to help save two citizens facing execution, forcing the government to defend its tactics. "Bali Nine" drug traffickers Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan could face the firing squad within hours, along with others from Brazil, Nigeria, the Philippines and an Indonesian prisoner. Australia, Indonesia's close neighbour, has mounted a sustained diplomatic …

  • ISIS has not penetrated Phl – AFP
    ISIS has not penetrated Phl – AFP

    Security officials yesterday maintained that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has not penetrated the Philippines following an expert’s warning that the group poses a threat to the country. Abu Sayyaf, BIFF (Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters), private armed groups to our knowledge are the people making problems down south,” Armed Forces chief Gen. Gregorio Catapang Jr. said. The BIFF and the Abu Sayyaf have pledged allegiance to the ISIS but it remains uncertain whether they are …

  • Cerbo named national police intel chief
    Cerbo named national police intel chief

    Philippine National Police officer-in-charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina yesterday ordered the appointment of PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Generoso Cerbo Jr. as chief of the Directorate for Intelligence. …

  • Pump prices up anew
    Pump prices up anew

    Oil companies announced yesterday another round of price hikes with independent oil firms among the first to issue their respective announcements. PTT Philippines, the local subsidiary of Thailand’s biggest oil firm, and Phoenix Petroleum Philippines, another independent oil company, were among the first to issue their respective advisories. Seaoil Philippines also issued its announcement. …

  • PNP to ease rules on gun permit processing
    PNP to ease rules on gun permit processing

    The Philippine National Police will simplify requirements for getting a firearm’s permit under the new gun control law, PNP officer-in-charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina said yesterday. Espina said they are working to simplify the process to secure a license to own and possess firearms (LTOPF) amid complaints of excessive requirements from gun holders. Espina directed the Firearms and Explosives Office (FEO) to make it easier for legitimate gun owners to comply with the …

  • Mercy for Mary Jane: Pacman joins appeals
    Mercy for Mary Jane: Pacman joins appeals

    World boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao took time out yesterday from final preparations for his $400-million megafight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. to plead for the life of a Filipina on death row in Indonesia. Pacquiao, a national hero in the Philippines, added his voice to a chorus of global opposition led by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to the executions of a group of foreign drug convicts, including compatriot Mary Jane Veloso. The eight-division world champion, who will face …

  • Phl condoles as Nepal death toll hits 3,700
    Phl condoles as Nepal death toll hits 3,700

    Foreign rescue teams equipped with heavy cutting gear and relief supplies were landing round the clock at Nepal’s only international airport on the outskirts of Kathmandu, which has been devastated by Saturday’s 7.8-magnitude quake. “We need more helicopters for our rescue operations in rural areas,” said Nepal Home Affairs spokesman Laxmi Prasad Dhakal. In a statement issued yesterday, Aquino said a team from the Philippine embassy in New Delhi, India would travel to Nepal to meet the needs …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options