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Nine civilians killed as militants attack Pakistani airport

Tuesday, December 18, 2012 - 4:00am

Five militants suspected to be behind an airport attack in Peshawar were killed Sunday morning when police raided a house where they were hiding.

The militants had taken the owner of the house hostage, said Peshawar Police Chief Imtiaz Altaf. When police raided the residence, two suspects blew themselves up and three others were killed in a gunfire exchange with officers.

Police had been looking for the men after three rockets were fired toward Peshawar's Bacha Khan International Airport on Saturday, killing at least nine people.

Syed Naveed Qamar, Pakistan's defense minister, said the target could have been an air force base, which is adjacent to the airport. Both the airport and the air base have the same entrance.

Mian Iftikhar Hussain, information minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, said after the attackers fired the rockets they tried but failed to drive an explosives-laden vehicle into the airport. The vehicle struck the airport's outer wall, blew up and killed five militants.

Other than the attackers, four civilians were also killed, Shahid said. He said 35 people were injured as well. Two of the rockets landed inside the airport and the other struck outside the facility.

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility of the attack. Taliban official Ehsanullah Ehsan said their target was in fact the air base.

"We have planned more attacks on Pakistani forces and its installation as it works to please the USA," Ehsan said.

Peshawar is near Pakistan's volatile tribal region. Militants have a strong presence in that region, which borders Afghanistan.

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