Fighters armed with rockets have attacked a Pakistani airport in the northwestern city of Peshawar, killing at least four people and wounding more than 30, officials have said.
“Four attackers were involved. One of the attackers was wearing a suicide vest and was driving a car. He rammed his car in the outer wall of the airport [compound],” Mian Iftikhar Hussain, information minister for the northwestern province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, said on Saturday.
“Rocket launchers were also fired. The attackers failed to reach the target. The dead bodies of the four terrorists are in police custody. Both Peshawar airport and the attached air base are safe,” he said.
The military said that a joint operation with a number of security agencies was under way to clear the area. On Sunday morning, local media reported that there had been an exchange of fire several kilometres from the airport between police and men alleged to be involved in the airport attack.
Pakistani television footage showed a vehicle with a smashed windscreen, another damaged car, bushes on fire and what appeared to be a large breach in a wall.
Pakistan’s air force said a rocket attack had damaged the outer wall of the air field, which lies near a residential area and military barracks in Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
“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.”
Mahmood said there had been no casualties among the Pakistan military or damage to equipment during the incident.
Three rockets also hit a nearby residential area, a military official said.
Taliban claims responsibility
The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan has claimed responsibility for the suicide attack, which forced the airport to close.
“We carried out this suicide attack, we will carry more such attacks on this airport,” Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told AFP by telephone from an undisclosed location.
The attack is one of the most audacious raids by Pakistani armed groups since an attack on a military air base in August.
Peshawar is located on the edge of Pakistan’s tribal region, a sanctuary for al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters.