At least 18 people, including an army captain, were killed as terrorists attacked a heavily-guarded Pakistan Air Force base in Badhaber area on the outskirts of Peshawar early Friday morning. According to Pakistan media reports, ISPR said 13 militants had been killed so far and a clearance operation was underway. Of the 18 dead, 16 were killed in a mosque as they offered morning prayers, and a captain died leading the counter-attack against raiders. Security officials said the attackers split into three groups after entering the camp, with two moving to a residential area. The third group approached the mosque and sprayed worshippers with bullets as they prayed, killing at least 16 of them. “Terrorists entered camp at two points. Encounter began immediately,” a Pakistani army officer tweeted. The attackers “were contained within a close area. Meanwhile a group rushed to mosque, martyred 16 offering prayers.” “Captain Asfandyar embraced shahadat while fighting valiantly and leading his troops from the front,” Pakistani Army officer Bajwa tweeted. Pakistani media said that following the attack, Army chief General Raheel Sharif reached Peshawar. “Army chief visited CMH, met injured army and PAF personnel,” Bajwa said, adding the chief of air staff accompanied him. “Injured in high morale and spirits,” he added. Army chief and air chief visited the Badaber base. “Met PAF, army and police troops who defeated the attackers and killed all terrorists,” DG ISPR added. The attack on the Badaber base, 10 kilometres south of Peshawar, triggered fierce gun battles between insurgents and the military in which at least 10 soldiers were wounded. Further, security officials told a Pakistn Daily. “Two security force personnel belonging to the PAF and FC have been killed in the attack.” Bajwa said operations were continuing to flush out any remaining gunmen and hailed the defenders’ reaction to the attack. He said Peshawar’s Brigade Commander led the operation along with specialist “quick response” forces, army commandos and air force personnel. Rescue 1122 officials said at least 22 people, including 10 soldiers, were also injured during the attack. “As per initial information, seven to 10 terrorists tried to break deep in the base” but troops managed to contain them, military spokesperson Major General Asim Bajwa said in a tweet. “Clearance operation is in progress. Major Haseeb of QRF injured, received a bullet in his thigh and has been taken to CMH,” Bajwa added. “Terrorists attacked a guard room early morning. Quick reaction force reached, surrounded, isolated them. Exchange of fire continues,” he further said. “Terrorists came in constabulary uniform,” DG ISPR added. “Three helicopters participated in clearance operation and a helicopter made an emergency landing due a technical fault,” Bajwa further said. “Entire response mechanism reacted quickly. Effectively surrounded, confined terrorists in small area. Three terrorists killed so far,” DG ISPR said. Following the attack, Army chief General Raheel Sharif left for Peshawar. “Will visit Corps HQs, meet with troops participating in clearance operations and will also visit wounded in CMH.” A senior PAF official said that the area attacked was an operational radar station at the base. “The attackers first went to the guard room. The quick response force had condoned the area while the situation remained unclear,” he said. However, additional security officials had been called in along with police officials. “There are no air assets including combat aircraft deployed at the base,” he said, requesting anonymity. In an email to the media, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Khorasani group claimed responsibility for the attack. “We sent 14 men to attack the base and eight of them entered the base from one side and six from the other side,” the spokesperson said. “The attack was planned by Qari Saifullah group and a threat alert had been issued a week ago,” a senior security official told a Pakistani Daily. “It was a result of security measures that a major catastrophe was restricted to minimum,” he added. The security official said initial investigations showed the attackers had travelled in a vehicle from Bara Tehsil, Khyber Agency to Ghundi area of Jamrud Tehsil. “A search operation had been launched in Jamrud since last night.” “All terrorists killed inside the base were suicide bombers,” he added. Condemning the attack, Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain said the nation is committed to eliminating terrorism from the country. “Terrorists cannot undermine our resolve by carrying out coward acts of terrorism,” the president said. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif reiterated the resolve to continue with full zeal the mission of eliminating terrorism for which the nation has rendered so many sacrifices. ”Terrorists will be rooted out from the country,” PM Nawaz said following the attack which took place early Friday morning. PM Nawaz cancelled his scheduled visit to Lowari Tunnel in the wake of the terrorist attack on PAF airbase in Peshawar.
2015 Kashmir Despatch