10 killed in Pakistani air base attack
updated 11:10 AM EDT, Thu August 16, 2012
Pakistani security personnel block a road linked to the Kamra air base.
- NEW: Pakistan's prime minister condemns the "act of terrorism"
- The fighting took place during a predawn meal in observance of Ramadan
- The Taliban claimed responsibility
- The attack came amid talk of a planned offensive
(CNN) -- At least 10 people died in a two-hour gunbattle at an air base in northern Pakistan on Thursday, a spokesman for the nation's air force said.
Militants dressed as airmen shot their way through a security post as personnel at Minhas Air Base in Kamra were eating a predawn meal in observance of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, said Capt. Tariq Mehmood, an air force spokesman.
He said one security forces member and nine militants were killed.
Security personnel continued to look for the attackers after the gunfight and found one of the dead gunmen was wearing a suicide vest. Four airmen were wounded in the attack. There was no damage to aircraft, Mehmood said.
Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told CNN that the Pakistani Taliban carried out Thursday morning's attack at the base, about 37 miles northwest of the nation's capital of Islamabad.
"Today's attack was planned for two months and carried out by our mujahedeen," Ehsan said by phone.
The Taliban official said three Pakistani soldiers were killed and an aircraft was destroyed, but the air force denies that claim.
Ehsan said the attack was a warning to the Pakistani military to end its cooperation with Washington and its support for the U.S.-led occupation of Afghanistan.
The attack came amid growing speculation that the Pakistani military is considering a U.S. demand to launch a major offensive targeting militants in the North Waziristan, a district in Pakistan's tribal region regarded as a haven for militants fueling the insurgency in Afghanistan.
Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf condemned what he called an "act of terrorism" and praised airmen for their "bravery" as they "successfully" cleared the base of militants.
Journalist Aamir Iqbal contributed to this report.
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