Militants attack Pakistani military base

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Islamabad (dpa) – Pakistani militants killed 17 people at an air force base in the troubled north-west on Friday, while 13 attackers died, the military said.

Over a dozen militants wearing uniforms of the paramilitary Constabulary force attacked Badaber air base in the suburbs of Peshawar city in the early morning, army spokesman Major General Asim Saleem Bajwa said.

One group targeted a mosque inside the base and killed 16 people at morning prayer, he said, without saying whether they were civilians.

An army captain was also killed as security forces surrounded the militants and killed 13 of them, Bajwa said.

Ten soldiers were injured including two officers, he tweeted earlier.

Rescue workers said that they shifted about two dozen injured to different hospitals.

The attackers entered the air base from two points and divided into groups.

The Taliban claimed responsibility, saying they killed “50 security men.” Spokesman Muhammad Khurasani said women and children were given safe exit.

Peshawar city police chief Mubarik Zeb told media that the militants may have launched the attack from the adjacent Khyber tribal region.

It was the first major attack on a security force compound since the Taliban stormed an army-run school in Peshawar in December, killing about 150 people including 136 students.

The attack calls into doubt claims by the civilian government and the army of having “broken the back of militants” in the country.

It also raises questions about the gains of military offensives in the tribal regions launched in June last year to eliminate militants.

The army says over 3,000 militants have been killed in the military drive.

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