Islamabad: Dozens of heavily-armed Taliban militants attacked a security forces check post in Pakistan's restive northwest on February 2, triggering fierce fighting that killed 30 people, including six paramilitary personnel and 12 civilians. Security forces foiled the raid on the isolated check post, located at Serai Norang area in Lakki Marwat district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, after an intense gun battle that continued for over three years.
The militants, who were armed with rocket-propelled grenades, launched the assault shortly before 4 am. "Twelve terrorists were killed. The bodies of four terrorists, of whom two were wearing suicide jackets, are in the custody of the security forces," said a security official who did not want to be named. Six personnel of the Frontier Constabulary were killed and eight more were injured.
The injured personnel were taken to military hospitals in Bannu and Peshawar, the official said. Ten members of the same family were killed when a rocket fired by the militants hit a house near the check post, police officials told the media.
The militants also stormed into the home of a 'patwari' and killed two persons, they said. Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan claimed responsibility for the attack. He claimed four suicide bombers were involved in the assault.
Ihsan said the attack was carried out in retaliation for the death of two Taliban commanders in recent US drone strikes. In phone calls to reporters in the northwest, Ihsan accused the Pakistan Army of helping in the drone strikes.
Media reports said the Taliban militants used heavy weapons to target the check post. About 40 militants carried out the attack, reports said. Sounds of explosions and firing were heard in the area for several hours, local residents said. The attack came a day after a Taliban suicide bomber blew himself up outside a Shia mosque at Hangu town in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, killing 29 people and injuring over 50.
Five policemen protecting the mosque were among the dead. The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the suicide attack too. Schools, offices and markets in Hangu, which has a sizeable Shia population, remained closed on February 2 to protest the suicide attack.