Taliban militants attacked an airbase in Pakistan’s northern city of Peshawar killing 17 people and injuring dozens more. The terror group has recently been on an offensive, freeing hundreds of militants and prisoners in Afghanistan and reigning terror in Pakistan.
Gunmen dressed in full police uniforms broke into the Badaber air base in Peshawar, Pakistan, on Friday morning. According to Maj. Gen. Asim Bajwa, 16 of the deceased were killed during morning prayers. The other victim was an army officer.
Gen Bajwa reported that the gunmen stormed into the base at two points before breaking out into groups. The gunmen proceeded to open fire on the faithful during morning prayers.
Authorities dispatched a rapid response unit to the scene of the shootings to contain the attackers. Reports from Pakistan authorities indicate that up to 13 militants were killed by security forces.
However, the Taliban, which has claimed responsibility for the attack, dismissed the number reporting that only one of their members was killed in the exchange of fire.
It is immediately unclear how many gunmen were involved in the attack. Pakistan authorities are still hunting downing the rest of the militant group.
Reports indicate that 20 people were injured in the exchange, including 10 Pakistan soldiers.
Pakistan Taliban spokesperson Muhammad Khurasani stated that the group had sanctioned the attack on Peshawar, a region that has been the target of militants for a long time.
Peshawar air base is located at the southernmost tip of the province. It is more of a residential base than an operative one. It is surrounded by tribal zones that have borne the brunt of militant attacks for a long time.
The attack is the first military targeting Taliban attack in Pakistan since one of their navy vessels was set upon in a Karachi dockyard in September 2014. It is also the bloodiest attack witnessed since the massacre of 150 schoolchildren and teachers in Peshawar’s Army School.
Anonymous military officials reported that the attackers were found with “explosives-laden jackets and were armed with hand-propelled grenades, mortars, AK-47 rifles”.
It is unclear whether the militants received insider support as is often the case with their previous attacks.
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has condemned the killings saying “Terrorists will be rooted out from the country.”
The attack on a military base was ordered to show Taliban’s growing military might and spread fear across Pakistan that their government was unable to protect the country. Security forces are working together to fight terror and unite the nation after the horrific attack.