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Six dead in Peshawar gun battle; airport back to normal

Islamabad, Dec 16, 2012 (IANS):
File photo

All five Taliban militants and a policeman were killed Sunday in a firefight near the Peshawar airport in northwest Pakistan, during a search operation launched after the airport attack Saturday night, officials said. The airport is now under control and normal operations have resumed.

At least 10 people -- five civilians and five militants -- were killed and over 40 others injured in the rocket attack at the Bacha Khan Airport Saturday night, for which the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility.

"We carried out this attack. Our 10 associates took part in this and target was the air force base in the Peshawar airport," Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told Geo News by telephone from an undisclosed location.

He said two explosives-laden vehicles were used in the attack.

The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the media wing of the Pakistani military, confirmed that one policeman died and five militants were killed in Sunday morning's crossfire while two policemen were injured.

The militants were holed up in an under-construction house in Pawakai area. They opened fire at police as they came out of their hideout around 10 a.m.

Of the five militants, three were shot dead and the other two blew themselves up after being cornered, the ISPR said.

Officials said one militant was a Pakistani Pashtoon and the other four were Arabic-speaking foreign nationals.

The house is located near the home of former provincial minister Kashif Khan, just one km from the airport.

The owner of the house said labourers working there phoned him about the presence of militants around 7.30 a.m. Sunday, and he then reported it to police.

The militants asked the labourers to arrange a car for them and threatened them with dire consequences if they reported to the police, the owner told Xinhua.

A Pakistan Air Force (PAF) spokesman said Sunday that the Peshawar airport was now in total control and normal operations have resumed.

He said the terrorists used two vehicles laden with explosives, hand grenades, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and automatic weapons. Three suicide jackets were also found.
There was, however, no damage to PAF equipment and personnel. A security alert has been raised at other PAF air bases in the country.


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