Brazen Taliban attack on Pakistani military base kills 29

2015-09-18 22:14


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Peshawar - Suspected Taliban militants launched a brazen attack on a Pakistani military base on Friday, killing 29 people including 16 who were gunned down inside a mosque during prayers. The Pakistani army quickly blamed militants from neighbouring Afghanistan, which Islamabad routinely accuses of harbouring terrorists who launch attacks across their porous border.

The attack was a major blow to Pakistan's military, which had stepped up operations against militants following a horrific Taliban attack last December at a Peshawar school that killed 150 people, mostly children. It also underscored the ability of the militants to stage spectacular attacks on targets linked to the country's military and government.

All 13 attackers were killed after an hours-long firefight at the Badaber base on the outskirts of the northwestern city of Peshawar, army spokesperson General Asim Saleem Bajwa said. In addition to the dead, another 29 people were wounded.

More than 2 000 employees were on the base at the time of the attack, Bajwa said. The attackers first stormed the guard room and then tried to move toward its administrative block, but were stopped by security forces, he said.

The base was established in 1960s but in recent years has mostly been used as a residence for air force employees and officers from Peshawar.

Bajwa said the assault was quickly repulsed because of timely and coordinated action by security forces. He told reporters in Peshawar that "the attackers came from Afghanistan," though he stressed he did not mean that the government in Kabul was behind the assault.

Intercepted communications indicated that the attackers were being handled by superiors in Afghanistan, he said, but would not elaborate further because Pakistan's spy agency was investigating the evidence. It was also possible that the attackers were assisted by someone on the inside, he added.

There was no immediate response from Afghanistan.

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