ISLAMABAD -- At least 30 people, including 13 Taliban militants, were killed early Friday morning as the militants launched an audacious attack on a camp used by the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) in a suburb of the northern city of Peshawar.
Located at Badaber, about 5 miles from Peshawar, the camp came under attack by Taliban militants dressed in paramilitary uniforms who drove straight through police checkpoints and got into the compound.
According to the communications agency for Pakistan's armed forces, 16 men were killed when the militants stormed a mosque inside the compound where people had gathered for pre-dawn prayers. In addition, there were reports that at least one young army captain was killed as he and other troops were sent to confront the militants. All 13 militants involved in the attack were also reported killed.
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Just hours after the attack, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility, according to reports on Pakistan's news networks citing emails received from the militant group.
Analysts warned that the attack should be seen as just the latest strike in an expected backlash following a year-long campaign by the Pakistani army and air force against Taliban targets in the country's tribal areas along the Afghan border.
"Though this is unfortunate, such attacks are to be expected. They (Taliban) are simply trying to seek revenge," said Ikram Sehgal, a respected Pakistani commentator on defence and security affairs. Others said the targeting of a PAF camp may have been provoked by widespread publicity given to a recent aerial bombing campaign carried out by the PAF using U.S.-supplied F-16s against Taliban camps in the North Waziristan region along the border.
Western diplomats in Pakistan's capital city of Islamabad said Friday's attack needed to be thoroughly investigated for any evidence of a possible breach of security.
"You have a bunch of militants who dress up like paramilitaries and drive in to this supposedly well protected place. It is essential for a follow up investigation to look at the gaps," said one senior Western diplomat in Islamabad, who spoke to CBS News on the condition of anonymity.
Friday's attack evoked memories of a particularly vicious Taliban attack on a school in Peshawar in December last year in which 141 school children were killed.
Though Badaber is a suburb of Peshawar, it has historical relevance to U.S. activities in the region. According to current and former Pakistani military officers, Badaber became a listening post for the CIA in the late 1950s and supported the ill-fated U-2 flight in 1960, when U.S. pilot Francis Gary Powers was shot down over Soviet airspace.