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Guard at Pakistani oil terminal slain by attackers

The three assailants, dressed as women, left behind a cache of weapons as they fled police in Karachi, officials say.

September 16, 2009|Associated Press

KARACHI, PAKISTAN — Burka-clad assailants armed with Kalashnikov rifles and hand grenades tried to attack an oil terminal in southern Pakistan, killing a security guard who intercepted them and fleeing as police arrived, officials said Tuesday.

The three attackers, dressed in the all-encompassing garment worn by some Muslim women, tried to enter the terminal Monday in the port city of Karachi where oil supplies arrive for the country's largest refinery, police said.

A security guard on duty confronted them but was shot to death by the attackers.

A police vehicle patrolling nearby heard the gunshots and responded. The attackers then fled, leaving behind 10 hand grenades, three Kalashnikov rifles and bullets stuffed in a woman's handbag.

Police later found a large cache of rocket-propelled grenades, explosives, suicide vests, burkas and other items apparently dumped by the suspects near a sewer in the area, senior investigator Raja Umar Khattab said.

"The bullet cartridges and the burkas found today suggest they threw their weapons when on the run after their foiled attempt on the oil terminal," Khattab said.

Karachi has a population of more than 16 million and a history of political, religious and ethnic violence. It is Pakistan's largest city and its commercial capital, and Taliban fighters are believed to use it as a place to rest and raise money.

Security throughout the country has deteriorated even as the government carries out multiple military operations against militants in the northwestern regions bordering Afghanistan.

Zulfiqar Mirza, Sindh province's home minister, said insurgents were withdrawing from fighting in the northwest and infiltrating major urban centers.

"Terrorists are fleeing Malakand and Swat because of the ongoing military operation and heading toward big cities and plotting terrorism. But our intelligence agencies are active and we are foiling their designs," Mirza said.

Fighter jets pounded suspected militant hide-outs Tuesday and killed five insurgents in a tribal region where the military declared victory six months ago after an offensive, an official said.

The bombings occurred in the Salarzai area of the Bajaur tribal region, local government official Zahid Khan said.

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