Four militants and two soldiers killed in shoot-out at Pakistan army base mosque
A small group of militants armed with guns and suicide jackets attacked a mosque at an army base in north-west Pakistan, triggering a shoot-out in which four insurgents and two soldiers were killed.
The army said 14 troops were also wounded in the attack on Saturday on Ghalani Camp in Mohmand tribal region bordering Afghanistan. It said that security forces "valiantly averted" an attempted suicide attack and killed all four militants.
It said the attackers wanted to enter the camp and started firing after they reached the mosque, where residents and a large number of recruits gathered for an early morning prayer.
The army said the attackers were contained in the outer courtyard of the mosque.
Two security officials confirmed the account and said a search operation was under way to trace and arrest any accomplices of the attackers. They said the assailants entered from the rear of the camp, which is located near a farm field.
The officials said the dead and wounded were being transported to hospital.
Shortly after the attack, Jamaatul Ahrar, a breakaway faction of the Taliban, claimed responsibility.
Ahsanullah Ahsan, spokesman for the group, said that the gunfight between attackers and troops was still continuing on Saturday morning.
He said the Ghalani Camp was notorious for torturing detained militants and that they carried out the attack to send a message to the outgoing army chief General Raheel Sharif, who is retiring next week after completing his three-year tenure.
The Mohmand tribal region is a hotbed for Islamic militants and the Pakistani army has carried out several operations to eliminate insurgent hideouts. But the militants have struck back, indicating they still have the capability to launch attacks.
Gen Sharif has said the army will continue operations against militants until they are eliminated.
He is leaving a legacy of a military chief who supported a strong, democratically elected government, personally served on the frontline and who led a military offensive that claims to have dismantled militant sanctuaries in tribal regions bordering Afghanistan.