A new indication of the growing power of the Taliban inside Pakistan. “Nine dead as Taliban suicide squad attacks airport in Pakistan,” by Jibran Ahmad for Reuters, December 16 (thanks to Kenneth):
PESHAWAR, Pakistan “” A Taliban suicide squad staged an audacious car bomb, rocket and gun attack Saturday on the airport in the northwestern city of Peshawar, and Pakistani security officials said at least nine people including five attackers were killed.
The night raid was the biggest assault on a high-profile military facility since gunmen stormed an air base in the eastern province of Punjab in August and underscored the resilience and reach of Pakistan’s Taliban insurgency.
“No terrorist has been able to penetrate inside (the air field),” Group Captain Tariq Mahmood, a spokesman for the Pakistan Air Force, said in a statement. “Security forces were fully alert and are in control of the situation.”
A squad of attackers wearing suicide-vests began the attack by ramming an explosives-laden vehicle into a boundary wall before trading fire with security forces for more than 30 minutes. Three rockets slammed into a nearby residential area.
Health and police officials said at least four civilians had been killed and 45 wounded in the flurry of blasts and gunshots….
The airfield complex serves both commercial flights and military aircraft, including helicopter gunships and warplanes used to strafe and bomb Taliban targets in the tribal areas.
Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan said the movement had sent 10 suicide bombers to attack the airport, double the number of attackers reported by security forces.
“Our target was the Pakistani Air Force base, not the Peshawar airport,” Ehsan said by telephone from an undisclosed location….