x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Final 5 Pakistan airport attackers die in gunfight

Three Taliban militants are shot dead and two blow themselves up after being cornered by Pakistani security forces.

PESHAWAR, Pakistan // The final five members of a group of Taliban militants who staged a deadly raid on an airport in the country's troubled north-west died yesterday after they were cornered by Pakistani security forces.

Three were shot by the security forces and the other two blew themselves up in the nearby village where they had holed up, officials said.

Another five militants were killed on Saturday night during their assault on the military part of the international airport in Peshawar city with rockets and car bombs.

Four civilians also died and more than 40 people were wounded during the initial attack, and a police officer was killed during the final gun battle.

Peshawar is on the edge of Pakistan's tribal region, the main sanctuary for Al Qaeda and Taliban militants in the country. The city has frequently been attacked in recent years, but Saturday's assault was the first strike against the airport, which is jointly used by the air force and civilians.

It was the third major military base attacked by the Taliban in 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, about three kilometres from the airport, said Mian Iftikhar Hussain, the information minister in surrounding Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Three of the militants were shot by security forces when they tried to escape, he said Mr. Both he and the military said the two other militants detonated their suicide vests when security forces stormed the building.

One policeman was killed and another wounded in the firefight, Mr Hussain added.

All five militants were Uzbeks, said military officials. The Taliban has been known to cooperate with militants from Uzbekistan in the past. It was unclear whether the five militants killed on saturday were locals or foreigners. The 10 Taliban militants began their attack on the airport by firing rockets at the wall surrounding it and then detonated two car bombs in an attempt to break through, said the air force. The militants, some of whom were wearing suicide vests, were also armed with rocket-propelled grenades, hand grenades, automatic weapons and bags of explosives.