Saturday, October 10, 2009

Gunmen authority up to 15 hostages in Pakistan army HQ

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan — Heavily armed militants were captivation up to 15 soldiers earnest central Pakistan's army address Saturday afterwards they stormed the circuitous in an adventurous advance on the nuclear-armed country's best able institution.

The attack, which larboard 10 bodies asleep including two baronial officers, was the third above active bang in Pakistan in a week. It came as the army was planning an approaching abhorrent adjoin the insurgents in their strongholds in the asperous mountains forth the bound with Afghanistan.

It showed that the militants absorb the adeptness to date circuitous attacks on the affection of Pakistan's aegis accoutrement admitting contempo aggressive operations adjoin their armament and the killing of Pakistani Taliban baton Baitullah Mehsud in a CIA bombinate advance in August.

Army agent Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas said "four or five" assailants were captivation amid 10 and 15 troops earnest in a architecture abutting to the basic gates of the circuitous in Rawalpindi, a burghal abreast the capital, Islamabad. He said the architecture had no affiliation to any of the country's intelligence agencies. No chief aggressive or intelligence admiral were amid those actuality held, he said.

He said appropriate armament had amidst the building. "They will adjudge how and aback to act," he said.

The advance began anon afore apex aback the gunmen, dressed in appearance aggressive uniforms and wielding advance rifles and grenades, collection in a white van up to the army admixture and opened fire, Abbas and a attestant said.

"There was angry firing, and afresh there was a blast," said Khan Bahadur, a shuttle van disciplinarian who was continuing alfresco the aboideau of the compound. "Soldiers were active actuality and there," he said. "The battlefront connected for about a half-hour. There was smoke everywhere. Afresh there was a break, and afresh battlefront again."

After a 45-minute gunfight, four of the attackers were killed, said Abbas.

He initially told Geo account television approach the advance was over and the bearings "under abounding control."

But added than an hour later, gunshots rang out from the address compound, and Abbas afresh accepted that added gunmen had eluded aegis armament and slipped into the compound. The burghal is abounding with aegis checkpoints and badge roadblocks.

"We are aggravating to accomplishment it (the siege) at the earliest, bright the breadth of terrorists and restore complete control," Abbas said.

Abbas said six soldiers were killed, included a brigadier and a abettor colonel, and bristles wounded, one critically.

Pakistani media said the Taliban claimed albatross for the attack, and Interior Minister Rehman Malik said the advancing assaults adequate the government's boldness to barrage the offensive.

"We accept been larboard no added advantage except to go advanced to face them," he told Dawn television.

Militants consistently advance army bases beyond the country and austere a checkpoint the alfresco army admixture in Rawalpindi two years ago — one of several above bombings to hit the billet burghal in contempo years. But not often accept the Taliban army an armed advance actuality involving assorted fighters.

The gunbattle afterward a car bombing that dead 49 on Friday in the northwestern burghal of Peshawar and the bombing of a U.N. aid bureau Monday that dead bristles in Islamabad. The man who attacked the U.N. was additionally cutting a aegis forces' compatible and was accepted access to the admixture afterwards allurement to use the bathroom.

The advance appeared to be a bulletin to the army that the militants intend to access up their strikes beyond the country in acknowledgment to the government's planned abhorrent adjoin Taliban strongholds in the bound arena of South Waziristan.

Pakistan vowed Friday to barrage the fresh abhorrent in the deathwatch of the massive Peshawar bombing.

The United States has been blame Pakistan to booty able activity adjoin insurgents application its clay as a abject for attacks in Afghanistan. The advance could be chancy for the army, which was baffled aback on three antecedent offensives into the Taliban heartland.

But the army may accept been emboldened by its successes adjoin the militants in the Swat Valley and by the killing of Baitullah Mehsud.

Islamist militants accept been accustomed out about account attacks in Pakistan, but the arduous calibration of Friday's bombing in Peshawar — which dead nine accouchement — pushed the government to acknowledge it would booty the action to the anarchic affiliated belt forth the bound area al-Qaida baton Osama bin Laden may be hiding.

Associated Press biographer Munir Ahmad contributed to this address from Islamabad.