The Taliban has killed at least 16 people inside a mosque during a brazen morning attack on an air base in the north west of Pakistan.
Army officials say the attackers managed to break into a mosque inside the compound of the base, where worshippers were praying, and gunned down 16.
Spokesman Major General Asim Saleem Bajwa said the “terrorists” entered the Badaber base from two different points on Friday, but that the attack was later repulsed – following a ferocious firefight with the troops there.
Earlier, Maj Gen Bajwa said 13 attackers were killed in the assault. He added that an army captain also died in the battle.
The attack was a major blow for Pakistan's military, which stepped up operations against the militants following a horrific Taliban attack last December at a Peshawar school that killed 150 people, mostly children.
The attackers first stormed the guard room of the Badaber base, established in 1960s as an air force facility but mostly used as a residential place for air force employees and officers from Peshawar, according to air force officials.
One of the wounded, security official Mohammad Rizwan, said he was coming out of the mosque when suddenly a bullet hit him.
“I fell down and I saw some of the attackers, but I don’t know what happened later, I fell unconscious,” he said.
Shortly after the attack, a suspected US drone strike hit a home in the South Waziristan tribal region, killing at least three militants and wounding five, according to two Pakistani security officials.