ISLAMABAD (AP) — A group of militants targeted a training air base in eastern Punjab province in the early hours of Saturday, leaving three of the attackers dead, Pakistan’s military said.
The troops’ “swift and effective response” thwarted the attack at Pakistan’s Mianwali Training Air Base, keeping its personnel and assets safe, a military statement said, though three grounded aircrafts were damaged and a fuel tanker destroyed in the attack.
It said the troops killed three attackers while they were entering the base, and another three were cornered. A comprehensive joint clearance and combing operation is in final stages to completely clear the area, the military said.
The attack comes a day after an ambush on a military convoy killed fourteen soldiers in southwest Baluchistan province. Also on Friday, a bomb and gun attack on a vehicle carrying police left three dead and more than 20 wounded.
No group has immediately claimed responsibility for Saturday’s attack on the air base, but the suspicion is likely to fall on the Pakistani Taliban, who have stepped up attacks on security forces since 2022. Authorities say the insurgents have become emboldened while living openly in Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover of that country in 2021.
Pakistan’s army carried out massive operations against militants in the former tribal regions along the Afghan border after an army-run school was attacked by militants in 2014, killing more than 150 people, mostly children.
All seven tribal regions, which have served as safe haven for militants for decades, have been converted into fully controlled districts in recent years, and the army announced it had cleared the region of local and foreign militants. However, occasional attacks have continued raising concerns that the local Taliban, known as Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, are regrouping.
The TTP or Pakistani Taliban is allied with the Afghan Taliban, a separate group that seized power in Afghanistan in 2021 as the United States and NATO troops were in the final stages of their pullout.