MILITANTS who tried to storm Pakistan's army headquarters have taken 10 to 15 hostages after a firefight that left six soldiers and four attackers dead, officials say.At least six insurgents armed with automatic weapons and grenades drove up to the compound yesterday and shot their way through one checkpost in the garrison town of Rawalpindi, before being stopped by security forces at a second post.
Four militants were killed but at least two managed to flee during the fierce firefight, barricading themselves into a security office near the headquarters, as gunship helicopters circled overhead, the military said.
"There are more than two terrorists who have taken some security personnel as hostages. Efforts are under way for their safe recovery," the military's spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said on state-run television.
"Security forces have surrounded the terrorists. We are trying to recover the hostages safely," he added.
"According to our assessment the number of hostages is 10 to 15," Gen Abbas later told private TV channel Geo.
"There could be four to five terrorists inside the building," he said.
The audacious attack in the city adjoining the capital Islamabad unfolded just before midday, when the militants dressed in army uniforms hurled grenades and opened fire at an entrance to the heavily fortified army command centre.
"There were at least six attackers. Four were killed. Two have been traced and surrounded by the troops," said an official with the army's media wing.
The attack comes amid a surge in insurgent strikes, as analysts say the Islamist Taliban militia try to deter an army offensive into their tribal stronghold along the mountainous border with Afghanistan.
Gen Abbas said in an earlier interview with Geo that the militants were dressed in army uniforms and "were armed with sophisticated weapons and grenades."
"They came in a van and tried to enter from gate one to gate two in the sensitive area," he told the TV channel.
"Six soldiers were martyred in the attack," he added.
A security official requesting anonymity said that a brigadier and a lieutenant-colonel were among the dead.
Source: The Australian