Pakistani soldiers carry the flag-draped caskets of their colleagues killed in an attack by militants during their funeral ceremony in Bannu February 2, 2013. — Photo by Reuters

LAKKI MARWAT: Militants stormed a camp of security forces in the Sarai Naurang area of Lakki Marwat district before daybreak on Saturday, leaving 13 soldiers and 12 militants dead. Eleven civilians were killed after a suicide bomber entered a house in a nearby residential colony and blew himself up.

Eleven security personnel were wounded in the assault, officials said. The Sarai Naurang town is a business hub of Lakki Marwat district, about 160kms south of Peshawar. It is situated near the Frontier tribal region Bannu.

Claiming responsibility for the attack, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan said it was carried out to avenge the killing of two Taliban commanders — Toofani and Faisal — in a US drone attack last month.

“We had sent only four fighters on the mission,” he told journalists by phone from an unknown location, intending to contradict the government’s claim that 12 militants lost their lives during the ferocious gunfight.

It was the biggest attack on security forces in Lakki Marwat district.

According to officials, militants attacked the army camp at 3.30am from different directions simultaneously. “The exact number of attackers is not known, but it could have been between 25 and 30,” an official said.

“They used sophisticated and automatic weapons, managing to keep security personnel engaged for several hours,” he added.

One attacker wearing a suicide vest broke into the house of a revenue official in a residential colony of the irrigation department and blew himself up, killing four children, three women and four men.

Security officials believe that militants infiltrated the area from a place bordering North Waziristan. Some of them were wearing suicide jackets, officials said.

“The gunbattle between security forces and militants lasted over an hour,” they added.

Some reports, however, suggested that rockets fired by militants at the army camp hit a number of houses, killing civilians.

An official said the slain civilians were residents of three or four houses. The explosion caused extensive damage to the structures.

“The bodies of civilians were taken to the civil hospital in Sarai Naurang and then handed over to relatives,” he added.

According to security sources, 11 army and Frontier Constabulary personnel were injured in the attack. “They were taken to the Combined Military Hospital in Bannu. The security forces also killed 12 militants.”

Suicide jackets removed from the bodies of two militants were later defused by bomb experts.

Police and security forces closed Naurang-Bannu Road and launched a search operation in the area.


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