x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Pakistan Taliban take hostages in attack on intelligence agency

Gunmen attack an office of the security force's intelligence agency in north-west Pakistan, taking several hostages and reportedly killing at least one officer.

BANNU, PAKISTAN // Gunmen attacked an office of the security force's intelligence agency in north-west Pakistan, taking several hostages and reportedly killing at least one officer, police said today.

The attack took place in Bannu just outside of the militant stronghold of North Waziristan in Pakistan's rugged tribal region near the border with Afghanistan.

Police official Zeenatullah Khan said police have cordoned off the building and exchanged fire with the attackers.

Reports coming to police from inside the building indicate one of the officers has been killed, Zeenatullah said. The attack started around 8am, and the fighting was still underway around noon local time.

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

"They are our fighters. They are fighting. There are two suicide bombers," said Ahsanullah Ahsan, a spokesman for the Taliban. He spoke to the Associated Press by telephone from an undisclosed location.

Because of Bannu's proximity to North Waziristan, militant fighters often launch attacks on Pakistani government facilities in the city and then retreat back into North Waziristan where it is almost impossible for the Pakistani government to track them.

Pakistani Taliban fighters broke into a prison in the city in April and freed close to 400 prisoners, including 20 who were considered dangerous insurgents.