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At least eight killed in attack on key Pakistani air base

Armed "terrorists" have stormed an air base in central Pakistan, air force officials have said. At least eight have been killed in a subsequent exchange of fire.

Pakistani air force officials reported early Thursday that militants armed with guns and rocket launchers attacked the base in the town of Kamra in Punjab province.

"A group of terrorists has attacked a portion of PAF Base Minhas," the Pakistan Air Force said in a statement. The statement said security personnel had exchanged gunfire with the attackers for several hours. Pakistani television channels reported shortly afterwards that at least two soldiers and six suspected militants were killed in the ensuing battle.

The large base is home to several squadrons of fighter and surveillance planes, which air force officials said were not damaged in the attack.

It was not immediately clear how the attackers entered the large air base, which is about 60 kilometers (37 miles) northwest of the capital Islamabad. There has also been no immediate claim of responsibility, but the Pakistani Taliban has been blamed for a number of attacks on military bases over the past few years.

A similar attack on an air base in the southern city of Karachi in May 2011, which left 11 security personnel dead, was claimed by the Taliban. The group, which is close to al Qaeda, has also been accused of carrying out a number of suicide bombings across Pakistan.

ccp/jlw (AFP, Reuters)