By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — Police say five militants were killed in a gunbattle in Pakistan’s northwestern city of Peshawar, one day after an attack on an airport in the city left at least four civilians dead and more than 40 injured.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the December 15 suicide and rocket attack on the airport saying it had sent 10 militants to attack the facility.
Five attackers were killed on December 15, and earlier on December 16 police raided a building under construction near the airport after reports that five others had taken refuge there.
Peshawar Capital City Police Officer Imtiaz Altaf told reporters the police operation ended after a prolonged gunbattle.
“There were five terrorists. All of them were killed. They belong to the same militants who attacked the [Peshawar] airport last night. Our operation has been continuing since last night,” Altaf said.
“Hats off to my police [staff]. The insurgents were heavily armed. They were armed to the teeth. They had hand grenades, weapons, and suicide belts.”
Police said three militants were killed in the shoot-out while two others detonated their suicide vests inside the building. One police officer was also reported killed. Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Information Minister Mia Iftikhar Hussain told RFE/RL’s Radio Mashaal the situation at the airport was back to normal on December 16.
“The airport is open. The airplane that could not fly last night is ready to go. Since they suspended all arrivals last night, flights were diverted to other airports,” Hussain said. “The airport is open for all departures and arrivals.”
The December 15 attack had forced authorities to suspend flights at the airport, which serves as a base for the Pakistani Air Force and also for commercial flights.
Police said militants detonated an explosives-filled vehicle near the outer wall of the airfield and also fired rockets but failed to penetrate the facility.
Peshawar lies on the edge of Pakistan’s tribal region where Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants have strongholds.
The attack came four months after militants attacked a military air base in the northwestern town of Kumra.