Eight dead in attack by Pakistani Taliban on army camp

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A temporary army camp set up along the Chenab River in Gujrat District, Punjab was ambushed by suspected members of the Pakistani Taliban, resulting in the deaths of eight security personnel. The attack occurred today at 5:30 am local time, and is believed to be in retaliation to the recent Pakistani decision to open the Southern Distribution Network (SDN), the main NATO supply route towards Afghanistan. According to the Gujrat police, seven soldiers and one policeman were among the dead.

According to the local sources, the attack was conducted by around half a dozen members from the pro-Taliban group, Difah-e-Pakistan. The attackers, who reached the area in a car and a number of motorcycles, opened indiscriminate fire on the soldiers with light machine guns. The policeman was killed when he tried to intervene. At least seven people were injured, some of them seriously during the attack. The injured included four policemen and three soldiers.

The army camp was set up last month, to recover the remains of Major Zahid Bari, who was killed when his helicopter crashed in the area on May 23rd, 2012. The Pakistani authorities were surprised by the attack, which happened in an area which had remained free of Talibani terror until now.

Officials informed the media that they are still investigating whether the attackers were linked to the Difah-e-Pakistan or not. The local police sources meanwhile said that the attackers could have definitely used the cover of a Difah-e-Pakistan protest, which was occurring near the army camp at the time of the attack. More than 8,000 people were taking part in the protest, which was passing through the area, on its way to Islamabad.

Basharat Mahmood, the head of the Gujrat Police Force said that the policemen are still searching for the perpetrators, who fled the area immediately after the attack. He said that a police patrol team tried to intercept the attackers as they were fleeing, but were overpowered and outnumbered by the militants.

Meanwhile the protests against the opening of the SDN continued in various parts of Pakistan, even as Taliban intensified its attacks inside Afghanistan. Six NATO troops were killed yesterday in the Afghan province of Wardak, when a Main Battle Tank (MBT) was destroyed by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED).

 

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