Taleban militants who attacked Pakistan airport die in battle with security forces

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Pakistani security forces cornered the last members of a group of Taleban militants who staged a deadly raid on Peshawar airport in the country’s troubled north-west, and all five died in the ensuing fire-fight yesterday, officials said.

Three were shot by the security forces and two others blew themselves up in the village where they had holed up, the officials said. Another five of the militants who attacked the military side of the international airport in Peshawar city on Saturday night with rockets and car bombs were killed during the assault. Four civilians also died and over 40 people were wounded in the initial attack, and a policeman was killed in the final gun battle.

Peshawar is on the edge of Pakistan’s tribal region, the main sanctuary for al-Qaeda and Taleban militants in the country. The city has frequently been attacked in the past few years, but Saturday was the first strike against the airport, which is jointly used by the air force and civilian authorities.

The airport is the third major military base attacked by the Taleban in roughly the past 18 months, a sign of the militant group’s continued strength despite multiple army offensives targeting their tribal sanctuary.

The militants killed yesterday were hiding in an unfinished house in Pawaka village, located about one and a half miles from the airport, said Major General Asim Saleem Bajwa, the chief military spokesman.

Three of the militants were shot by security forces during a gun battle that lasted at least three hours, said Bajwa. The two other militants detonated their suicide vests when troops broke down the house’s gate with an armoured vehicle, he said.