Militants storm Pakistan police station, 16 killed (UPDATE)

Militants storm Pakistan police station, 16 killed (UPDATE)

Updates toll, hostage situation ends, Taliban claim responsibility

Taliban militants stormed a police station on Saturday, killing 10 security officers in north-western Pakistan while six attackers, including a woman, also died in the raid, said police, dpa reported.

The attack took place in the Kolachi area of Dera Ismail Khan, about 240 kilometres west of Peshawar, the capital of the restive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Mian Iftikhar Hussain, the provincial information minister, said six attackers armed with assault rifles and hand grenades attacked the police station and took the officers as hostages after killing the guards at the gate.

"Hostage situation has ended. Three of the terrorists were suicide bombers and they blew themselves up during the fighting while three more died in exchange of fire with our security forces," Hussain said. "We have lost ten policemen."

At least one of the attackers was a woman, according to Hussain. Around half a dozen security personnel were injured.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the raid.

Ihsanullah Ihsan, the mouthpiece of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, an umbrella organization of more than a dozen militant outfits, said that the attack was carried out to avenge the death of al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in the May 2 US raid in Pakistan's north-western city of Abbottabad.

"Those who have collaborated with the Americans should expect more similar attacks by our brave mujahidin," he said.

The gun battles between the militants and security forces continued for more than two hours.

Witness Mohammad Yasin, a local journalist, said the militants fired three rockets at an armored police vehicle that was attempting to enter the police station.

Dunya television reported that the militants had positioned themselves on the roof, from where they fired at security forces who had surrounded the area.

Television footages showed military troops heading towards the building and clouds of thick smoke rising from inside the police station.

A policeman participating in the operation said on condition of anonymity that the lives of some of the colleagues could have been saved if the security forces had not rushed into the compound.

"The terrorists might have got panicked and blown themselves up when they saw the police vehicle entering the building. We could save some lives with some better strategy," he said.

Dera Ismael Khan is located close to the South Waziristan tribal district, where Pakistani security forces carried out a major operation against the Taliban last year. Islamabad claims that the area has been cleared of the militants but regular attacks on troops continue.

Saturday's attack is the latest in the terrorist campaign that al-Qaeda and its linked Taliban groups have intensified since Osama bin Laden was killed by US special forces.

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