Airport attack: Peshawar nightmare ends Sunday afternoon

Published: December 17, 2012

Army troops race to take positions during a gunfight with Taliban militants in Peshawar on Sunday. PHOTO: AFP

PESHAWAR: 

Five Uzbek militants, who fled the deadly Taliban raid on Peshawar airport and took refuge in a nearby village, were killed as police backed by army commandos launched a raid early Sunday to clear an under-construction building where the militants were holed up.

Fierce firing broke out after police, acting on an intelligence report, stormed the building near the airport, with police and army commandos battling militants armed with automatic weapons, grenades and mortars.

All five militants who were holed up in two buildings in Pawaka village were killed by Sunday afternoon. A police commando was also killed, while two policemen were injured during the operation.

Fifteen people – including 10 militants, two policemen and three civilians – were killed since Saturday night’s attack on Peshawar airport.

According to a military version, five terrorists – who appeared to be Uzbek nationals – had been killed on Saturday: three during a firefight with security forces while two suicide bombers blew themselves up as army commandos entered the compound.

The director general of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Maj-Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa, also lauded the role of security agencies and civilians who, according to him, provided key information regarding the presence of terrorists in Pawaka area.

“These people had managed to escape from the police cordon last night and have been killed in an operation jointly carried out by police and army commandos,” said Maj Gen Bajwa, adding that two groups were conducting last night’s assault on the airport.

PAF version 

According to a Pakistan Air Force (PAF) statement, five attackers were killed on Saturday and no damage was done to the airbase, which is adjacent to the airport, though Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan claimed the assault had damaged “several helicopters and aircraft”. The Taliban normally exaggerate their successes.

“The base is in total control and normal operations have resumed. The security alert was also raised at other PAF bases as well,” said the PAF statement.

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 PAF said Saturday’s attackers used two vehicles rigged 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, including PAF and army troops who were on full alert, cordoned off the base and effectively repulsed the attack,” it added.

Meanwhile, Taliban spokesman Ehsan said the target was not the airport but the PAF base. “Our target was fighter jets and helicopter gunships and soon we will target them again,” he told AFP by telephone from an undisclosed location.

Peshawar’s Capital City Police Officer Imtiaz Altaf said the terrorists were armed to the teeth. “They had suicide vests, rockets, grenades and automatic rifles,” he said, adding that police had arrested two suspects who were being interrogated.

Bomb disposal

Additional Inspector General of Bomb Disposal Squad (BDS) Shafqat Malik said they had defused three suicide jackets on Saturday and three on Sunday.

“In the first explosion in which a suicide bomber rammed his car into the wall of the airport around 50 kg explosive was used. While the explosive in the suicide vests was around 7 kilogrammes each,” said Malik, adding that the militants also had improvised explosive devices.

(WITH ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY KAMRAN YOUSUF IN ISLAMABAD AND AFP)

Published in The Express Tribune, December 17th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (6)

  • 2Cents
    Dec 17, 2012 - 6:16AM

    “Taliban spokesman Ehsan said the target was not the airport but the PAF base. “Our target was fighter jets and helicopter gunships and soon we will target them again,” he told AFP by telephone from an undisclosed location.”

    It is happening too often and this Ehsan guy calls by phone from an undisclosed location. Can’t someone track this person/location? There are technologies available to do so.
    ..2 Cents

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  • Maria
    Dec 17, 2012 - 7:21AM

    Great work by the Pakistani security forces in rooting out and destroying these anti state criminals working for foreign masters! They have again proved unsuccessful in their bid to harm innocent civilians. We need to appreciate the good work done by the security agencies against such cowards who attack unarmed civilians.

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  • Karachite
    Dec 17, 2012 - 8:25AM

    Salute the KP police as they have rendered countless sacrifices fighting terrorists

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  • Dec 17, 2012 - 9:54AM

    Great Job pakistan millitary, PAF guards and Policy

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  • roadkashehzada
    Dec 17, 2012 - 10:29AM

    salute to our forces for repelling the attack. great job!!!

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  • Ali
    Dec 17, 2012 - 2:43PM

    I pay my Salute to Pak Army, Police, PAF or whoever took part in this mission.
    i am just wandering, why our ARMY do not take action again these TAATTOOOOOS people, they knew they are making the mess, so why they just use a BRUSH to clean them UP, they came from that far away and trying to destroy our HOME in our AREA, how sad PAK ARMY!!!!

    my half cent!!

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