Nine dead as Taliban attack airport in North West Pakistan

Sat Dec 15, 2012 3:28pm EST
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By Jibran Ahmad

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - A Taliban suicide squad staged an audacious car bomb, rocket and gun attack on the airport in the northwestern city of Peshawar on Saturday and Pakistani security officials said at least nine people, including five attackers, were killed.

The night raid was the biggest assault on a high-profile military facility since gunmen stormed an air base in the eastern province of Punjab in August and underscored the resilience and reach of Pakistan's Taliban insurgency.

"No terrorist has been able to penetrate inside (the air field)," Group Captain Tariq Mahmood, a spokesman for the Pakistan Air Force, said in a statement. "Security forces were fully alert and are in control of the situation."

A squad of attackers wearing suicide-vests began the attack by ramming an explosives-laden vehicle into a boundary wall before trading fire with security forces for more than 30 minutes. Three rockets slammed into a nearby residential area.

Health and police officials said at least four civilians had been killed and 45 wounded in the flurry of blasts and gunshots.

Authorities sealed off access to the airport during the attack and suspended flights, leaving passengers and staff facing tense minutes waiting to see whether the militants would succeed in fighting their way into the complex.

Pakistan's army rushed reinforcements to the aid of guards battling the attackers, all five of whom were killed, security sources said.

"We have repulsed the attack on the airport, everything is now under control," said a military official.   Continued...

Policemen gather near the site of a rocket attack at Peshawar's airport December 15, 2012. Four people were killed when militants attacked the airport in the northwestern city of Peshawar on Saturday and traded gunfire with soldiers for more than 30 minutes before being repulsed, military and health officials said. REUTERS/Fayaz Aziz