PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — Militants attacked an army camp in northwestern Pakistan with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades before dawn on Saturday, killing six members of the security forces, officials said.
The attack followed a suicide bombing at a Shiite Muslim mosque elsewhere in the northwest on Friday that killed 23 people and wounded more than 50, police said. It was the latest in a rising number of sectarian attacks in the country.
The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for both attacks. The group has been waging a bloody insurgency against the government for years and has carried out previous attacks on the country's minority Shiite sect.
The raid on the army camp in Serai Naurang town in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province began around 3:45 a.m. local time and lasted for several hours, said senior police officer Arif Khan Wazir. The militants were armed with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades and also seemed to include suicide bombers, he said.
Six security force personnel were killed and eight others were wounded in the attack, said an army official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the army has not yet issued a news release. Twelve militants were also killed, he said.
Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan claimed responsibility for the attack in a telephone call to The Associated Press from an undisclosed location. He said four suicide bombers were involved in the attack. He said that three of them were killed and the fourth is still resisting.
Ahsan said the attack was in retaliation for the recent deaths of two Taliban commanders in U.S. drone strikes. He accused the Pakistani army of helping with the attacks.
Pakistani officials often criticize drone strikes as a violation of the country's sovereignty, but are known to have assisted with some attacks in the past.
The attack on the mosque Friday took place in Hangu town in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which has experienced previous clashes between the Sunni and Shiite communities that live there.
Shiites in Pakistan have increasingly been targeted by radical Sunnis who consider them heretics, and 2012 was the bloodiest year for the minority sect in the country's history.