The Pakistani Taliban killed 16 people who were praying in a mosque inside an air force compound early Friday, prompting a gun battle that left 13 assailants dead, Pakistani army officials said.
The attack on the outskirts of this northern city also killed an army officer, said Maj. Gen. Asim Bajwa, a spokesman for the security forces.
FOR THE RECORD
11:58 a.m.: An earlier version of this article stated that the battle took place on Monday. It occurred on Friday.
Rescue workers who entered the mosque inside the Badaber air base, which houses training and residential facilities for the air force, said they saw about two dozen bodies inside the mosque.
The Pakistani Taliban, an umbrella group of militant organizations that has been the target of a Pakistani military operation for more than a year, claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement to news media.
The Pakistani military, including the air force, is reportedly conducting the last phase of a “clearance operation” in Shawal, a mountainous area near the border with Afghanistan in the North Waziristan tribal region. The army has claimed that 3,000 local and foreign militants have been killed in North Waziristan during the operation.
Residents said they heard heavy gunfire starting at around 5 a.m., followed by explosions inside the camp. Nasim Shah, a local resident, said he was praying in a mosque outside the camp’s walls when the intense firing started.
“Then loud explosions occurred inside the camp and I quickly rushed home,” he said.
Army and police anti-terrorism units cordoned off the camp, and helicopters were seen flying overhead. The camp is not an operational military facility but houses two training schools, a school for the children of air force officers and residential quarters.
Badaber had served as a communications facility for the CIA from 1959 until 1970 and was later converted to a residential colony for the Pakistani air force.
Peshawar has been relatively peaceful after a bloody attack on an army-run school last December that left 150 students and teachers dead.
Ali is a special correspondent.