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Dozens Dead As Militants Attack Pakistani Base


PESHAWAR, Pakistan -- At least 15 members of Pakistan's security forces and 11 civilians have been killed in a dawn raid by militants on an army camp in the country's northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

The dead included a number of women and children.

Security officials said militants used automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades in the attack on the base, in the Sarai Nawrang area of the Lakki Marwat district.

Gul Hameed Khan, chief of the Sarai Nawrang police station, told RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal that "three or four" of the 11 bodies he'd seen were children, and three more were women.

Authorities said the dead civilians were residents of a nearby house.

Khan added that at least five militants were killed in the seven-hour gunbattle with security forces.

"The bodies of the five terrorists are here [at the police station], too," Khan said. "They have suicide jackets on and hand grenades tied to their bodies."

The attack followed a suicide bombing at a Shi'ite Muslim mosque, also in the northwest, on February 1 that killed 23 people and wounded more than 50 others.

The Tehrik-i Taliban Pakistan, a group also known as the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility for both attacks.

In a telephone call to Radio Mashaal from an undisclosed location, Ihsanullah Ihsan, a spokesman for the group, said the attack was in retaliation for the recent deaths of two Taliban commanders in U.S. drone strikes.

He accused the Pakistani security forces of providing assistance to the U.S. for such aerial strikes.

In recent months, militants have increased their attacks on targets associated with Pakistan's army and air force bases. They attacked Peshawar airport in December, forcing government troops to fight for two days to clear the area.

With additional reporting by AP and AFP

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