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Pakistani Forces Strike Militants After Peshawar Airport Attack

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Dec. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Five militants involved in an attack on the Peshawar, Pakistan, airport died after a three-hour siege, according to a military statement.

Pakistani forces killed three militants holed up in an unfinished building and two others blew themselves up, the military said yesterday.

Another five were killed Dec. 15 when government forces repulsed an attack on the military section of the Peshawar airport by Pakistani Taliban armed with rockets, suicide jackets and hand grenades, according to the military. Four civilians were killed and 40 others injured, Geo TV network reported, citing hospital sources. The airbase also serves as the main airport for the city, with daily international and domestic flights.

One policeman was killed and another injured in yesterday’s operation in Pawaka village near the airport, Mian Iftikhar Hussain, the information minister for the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, told reporters.

Pakistani Taliban, al-Qaeda and allied militant groups regularly attack security and civilian targets in the city in response to Pakistan’s role in the U.S.-led war in neighboring Afghanistan. Peshawar is a gateway to the volatile tribal region on the Afghan border where foreign and local militant groups have sanctuaries.

Uzbek Attackers

The five killed yesterday appear to have been of Uzbek nationality the military said. The nationalities of the other five were still unknown.

The attackers tried to enter the base from three locations, Pakistan Air Force spokesman Group Captain Tariq Mahmood said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. They failed to cause any damage to aircraft or other facilities, it said.

“Coordinated joint operations by all security agencies thwarted the attack,” according to the statement. “The base is in total control and normal operations have resumed.”

The raid was the third major attack on Pakistan’s military installations since May last year. Militants stormed Pakistan’s main air force base near the capital, Islamabad, in August, sparking a gun battle that killed all nine attackers. The Pakistani Taliban in Karachi in the same month damaged or destroyed U.S.-made P-3C Orion surveillance aircraft. The Karachi attack left 10 soldiers and four Taliban dead after a 16-hour battle.

To contact the reporter on this story: Haris Anwar in Islamabad at hanwar2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Tighe at ptighe@bloomberg.net

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