Peshawar: An army officer was among the 30 people killed when heavily armed Taliban guerrillas stormed a sprawling Pakistan Air Force base and attacked a mosque inside it. Thirteen terrorists were also gunned down in the brazen terror attack.
The audacious attack took place less than a year after over 130 children were killed at an army school in this capital city of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
The terrorists wearing explosives-laden jackets and armed with hand-propelled grenades, mortars, and AK-47 rifles entered the base in Peshawar’s Badaber area from two points and then quickly split into sub-groups, reported Dawn.
The air base is surrounded by tribal areas.
PAF sources said the base is not an operational one, rather it is residential. They also added that all the assets are safe.
Eyewitnesses said the terrorists were dressed in black uniforms and wore white shoes.
Maj. Gen. Asim Bajwa, director-general, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), said 16 people offering prayers at a mosque inside the air base, 10 km south of Peshawar, were shot dead.
It was not immediately known whether those who were killed were all air force personnel.
Gen. Bajwa tweeted that 13 terrorists were killed. The Pakistan Army too suffered casualties. A captain, Asfandyar, was among those killed.
At least 25 people, including eight soldiers and two army officers, have so far been injured as army commandos, and personnel of the Pakistan Air Force and Quick Reaction Force carried out a counter-attack.
Bajwa said operations were under way to flush out any remaining gunmen in the air force camp.
A posse of security personnel quickly reached the spot, triggering a heavy exchange of fire between militants and security forces. Residents said they heard explosions and gunfire soon after the terror attack was mounted.
Banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesperson Muhammad Khurasani claimed responsibility for the attack in an e-mail sent to journalists.
On August 16, 2012, militants attacked the Minhas base of the Pakistan Air Force at Kamra. But recently there has been a lull in the violence. The last deadly attack in the city came in February when three Taliban militants stormed a Shia mosque, killing 21 people.
Corps Commander Lieutenant General Hidayatur Rehman conducted aerial surveillance of the base from a helicopter.
Around 15 people were arrested during the search operation.
Army chief General Raheel Sharif arrived in Peshawar hours after the attack.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the attack and is monitoring the situation.