Pakistani troops stand guard near a security checkpoint as local residents look on top their house in Quetta on May 17, 2011. Pakistani security forces foiled a major suicide attack when they killed five militants equipped with suicide vests, three of them women, in a firefight, officials said. – Photo by AFP

QUETTA: Security forces killed five suspected Chechen terrorists, three of them women, who had tried to attack a checkpoint near the airport on Tuesday. A paramilitary soldier died of wounds he had suffered during the incident.

“All the five Chechens were suicide bombers,” Capital City Police Officer Daud Junejo said, adding that they possessed hand-grenades, explosives and detonators.

However, he was not sure about the place or the people the slain terrorists planned to target.

“I have no idea at the moment about their target,” Mr Junejo said, adding that they were going towards the city.

Another senior police officer said that intelligence agencies had received information that some suicide bombers had entered Quetta and police and security forces had been put on high alert.

“They were Chechens and possessed Russian passports,” the police officer claimed. He said their passports carried Iranian visa.

Sources said that policemen deployed at a picket in Killi Khezi area near the airport informed police and law-enforcement agencies about a vehicle carrying some suspected foreigners. The driver of the van ignored police signal and tried to speed away.

A heavy contingent of police started patrolling the area. Frontier Corps personnel rushed to the area and cordoned it off. They saw the suspected vehicle and gave it a chase.

The police official claimed that after reaching the Bazai-Cross, the suspects abandoned the vehicle and hurled two grenades at the FC checkpoint on the main roundabout, injuring three FC personnel.

One of them, identified as Sajjad, died in hospital.

The FC men opened fire on the suspected terrorists, killing the five on the spot.

“All the five suspects, two men and three women, received multiple bullet injuries,” the sources said, adding that bodies of the three women were found near the FC checkpoint. They were wearing colourful Pakistani dresses. Their ages ranged between 22 and 24 years. The men also appeared to be 24 to 25 years old.

One of the men was identified as Ahmed and a woman as Aimat, according to their passports.

“The suspects looked quite young. They walked to the FC checkpoint and a powerful explosion took place,” Zaheer Khan, who was in the area at that time, told reporters. Another witness claimed having seen them carrying grenades.

“They held grenades in their hands,” Abdul Nafay said. Police sources claimed that suspects had shown grenades to the policemen when they tried to stop their van.

“They hurled two grenades at the checkpoint,” Col Faisal of Frontier Corps told newsmen.

The bodies of the five alleged suicide bombers were taken by FC and police to Bolan Medical Collage.

None of the suspects was wearing suicide jackets, the sources said.

Police claimed that two and a half kilograms of high explosives and 52 detonators had been found in the van used by the suspects.

The sources said that two other people traveling with the foreigners had escaped before the firing by security forces.

They said they had entered Pakistan from Afghanistan through the Chaman border two days ago and after an overnight stay in Kuchlak they were coming to Quetta in the rented van.

Some people were, however, of the view that all the five were going to the FC checkpoint to surrender themselves. They said that before the FC opened fire the women were waving their hands near the checkpoint and this was shown live by a private TV channel. However, officials claimed that they all wanted to attack the checkpoint.

Police said that a team of senior officers was investigating the incident.

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