Peshawar police battle militants after deadly airport raid

By AFP
Published: December 16, 2012
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Policemen carry away collected evidence after a gun battle with Taliban militants in Peshawar. PHOTO: AFP

Policemen carry away collected evidence after a gun battle with Taliban militants in Peshawar. PHOTO: AFP

PESHAWAR: Six people were killed Sunday as police and troops battled militants armed with automatic weapons, grenades and mortars in 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 militant attack in four months on a military air base in Pakistan. In August 11 people were killed when heavily-armed insurgents wearing suicide vests stormed a facility in the 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.

 

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Reader Comments (22)

  • Naeem Siddiqui
    Dec 16, 2012 - 5:42PM

    Well done guys!

    Recommend

  • Mohammad Ali Siddiqui
    Dec 16, 2012 - 6:11PM

    After the PNS Mehran Base attack in Karachi, the law enforcement agencies were suppose to keep on eye on all the suspicious people who were hiring houses near all airports a in the country but this did no happened at all.

    Had a proper vigilance system was effective, I am sure that terrorists would have not got a chance to launch an attack.

    Recommend

  • afzaalkhan
    Dec 16, 2012 - 6:16PM

    Thank you Security forces, Salute to you. All the security forces martyrs we can never thank you enough.

    Recommend

  • aley
    Dec 16, 2012 - 6:34PM

    PTI & JI must be sad today ….

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  • abid
    Dec 16, 2012 - 6:57PM

    this operation was the most successfull till now ..this time security personnel were keenly waiting to take them on .

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  • adeel qadri
    Dec 16, 2012 - 7:00PM

    sorry for the two policemen martyred and civilian loss. May Allah bless their families.

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  • Kamaran
    Dec 16, 2012 - 7:20PM

    Proud to Nwfp Police. They are really tough. I have no doubt NWFP police is most fighter police of World

    Recommend

  • Syed Hussain Raza
    Dec 16, 2012 - 7:22PM

    Well Done,Security Forces.The terrorists got what they deserve.

    Recommend

  • Wali Kahan
    Dec 16, 2012 - 7:22PM

    @aley:
    I am PTI and I am very happy to see our Brave officers to fight against militants and save from them

    Recommend

  • Aftab Ahmad
    Dec 16, 2012 - 8:02PM

    Such incidences will recur again and again unless we change our policy towards these fanatics. The list of our martyrs will go on and on without bearing any fruit. Now time has come to completly eliminate these barbarians once and for all if we want a progressive and properous pakistan. They dont deserve any mercy.

    Recommend

  • PrincessPakistan
    Dec 16, 2012 - 8:02PM

    Bravo… hats off to Army and Police for a good operation
    General kiyani Kill them all
    its the only way to revive Khaki honorRecommend

  • Dec 16, 2012 - 8:49PM

    Bravo to Peshawar Police, they have done excellent job. proud of them

    Recommend

  • Yellow
    Dec 16, 2012 - 8:59PM

    @aley, the only sad thing is your life

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  • Animal
    Dec 16, 2012 - 9:13PM

    DCP should sit on indefinite hunger strike now.

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  • Hafeez
    Dec 16, 2012 - 9:48PM

    I am so proud of the KP Police. They prove themselves as the brave sons of soil. My salute to KP Police.

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  • Enlightened
    Dec 16, 2012 - 10:05PM

    Undoubtedly, the security forces have given a good account of themselves against this militants attack in Peshawar by saving the Air-force planes, keeping casualties to minimum and killing all the militants. However, this attack, many suicide blasts and other attacks taking place in this region raises many uneasy question of the role of Pak intelligence agencies and army of the measures taken by them to prevent these attacks. The ease with which the TTP mounts these attacks is a clear indicator that no action has been taken to burst their hide-outs inside Pakistan by launching ground operations. However, aerial bombardment had been resorted to and a lot of success claimed but the same appear to be false claims, without carrying out verification on the ground. Until the army is serious in eliminating militancy in Pakistan such attacks would continue in future as well and many innocent people may lose their lives.

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  • zohaq
    Dec 16, 2012 - 11:22PM

    Intelligent and courageous officers of the Police deserve the nation’s gratitude.

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  • barbar
    Dec 17, 2012 - 12:33AM

    Can we believe the authorities or militants regarding loss to the helicopters and aircrafts?

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  • akhbar hassan
    Dec 17, 2012 - 12:36AM

    People around the area said militants did breach the compund and destroyed many helicopters and an air force plane. It seems like a big economic loss for paf fighting the militants along the border region.

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  • Nightmare
    Dec 17, 2012 - 1:39AM

    :@akhbar hassan.. does helicopters and air planes are like ants that media couldn’t see.. if they were destroyed.

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  • Jat
    Dec 17, 2012 - 2:16AM

    @barbar: “Can we believe the authorities or militants regarding loss to the helicopters and aircrafts?”

    Of course not ! When was the last time your authorities and agencies told a truth ? Couple of helicopters lost and a few planes damaged. Ask any resident living near the area.

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  • Jat
    Dec 17, 2012 - 2:20AM

    @Nightmare: “…does helicopters and air planes are like ants that media couldn’t see.. “

    Media has been taught to remain quiet. They have learned their lesson after Saleem Shahzad.

    Recommend

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