Pakistani Taliban claim airbase attacks

QUETTA: The Pakistani Taliban on Friday said they were behind attacks on two airbases in Quetta which left 12 militants dead.

Gunmen armed with automatic weapons, grenades and wearing suicide vests tried to storm Samungli and Khalid airbases, both in the Balochistan provincial capital Quetta, late on Thursday.

Security forces repelled both attacks after more than nine hours of fighting, Sarfaraz Bugti, the home minister of the insurgency-hit province, said, adding that the militants did not penetrate either base.

Two different factions of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attacks and said they were a response to the military´s ongoing assault on militant hideouts in North Waziristan tribal area.

The Fidaeen-i-Islam group initially claimed responsibility in a phone call to AFP from commander Ghalib Mehsud.

“The attacks were in revenge to military operation launched against us in North Waziristan,” Mehsud said.

“We will launch more and bigger attacks on government and military installations.”

Later Azam Tariq, chief of TTP´s South Waziristan chapter and a former chief spokesman for the umbrella group, also claimed responsibility.

Lieutenant General Naseer Janjua, the top army commander in the region, told reporters 12 attackers were killed, raising the overnight death toll of nine.

Reporters were shown nine corpses and pieces of three bodies of attackers along with the weapons and explosives recovered during the search operation after the attackers were killed or blew themselves up.

At least 11 security personnel were wounded, Janjua said.