PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Several dozen militants armed with assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades attacked a power grid station in northwestern Pakistan before dawn today, killing seven people and taking four hostage, police said.
The attack on the outskirts of Peshawar city occurred at around 2 a.m., said the local police chief in the area, Granullah Khan. The militants first killed two people at the scene of the attack and took nine with them, he said.
The militants then killed five of the hostages as they were fleeing and were pursued by police, said the police chief. The bodies were found about half a mile away from the grid station. Four of the abducted were still missing. The dead included three policemen and four government power workers, said Khan. The men still missing are all power workers.
The grid that was attacked is located near Khyber, part of Pakistan’s semiautonomous tribal region bordering Afghanistan, the main sanctuary for the Taliban in the country. It supplies electricity to a large part of Peshawar, and many areas of the city were still without power this morning because the station was damaged in the attack. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. But Taliban militants waging a bloody insurgency against the government have staged scores of attacks against security officials, government personnel and civilians.
The Pakistani military has launched dozens of operations against the Taliban in the tribal region, but the militants continue to carry out frequent attacks. The group has also made recent gains in an area of Khyber called the Tirah Valley, which potentially provides them easier access to Peshawar.
There are concerns the militants could step up attacks in the run-up to parliamentary elections on May 11 in an attempt to derail the vote.