Four suicide bombers who were trying to attack a Christian colony in Pakistan were killed early Friday during a gunfight with security forces outside the northwestern city of Peshawar, the army said.
Soldiers backed by army helicopters exchanged gunfire with militants in suicide vests who had tried to attack the colony near Warsak Dam, just north of Peshawar, the army said.
"Four suicide bombers with arms and ammunition entered the Christian Colony at Warsak after hitting a security guard at 5.50 am (00:50 GMT)," the Pakistan army said in a statement.
"Security forces promptly responded and surrounded the area. Exchange of fire took place and all four terrorists were killed," it said, adding that two paramilitary soldiers, a policeman and two security guards were wounded in the gunfight.
The "situation is under control", the statement said, adding that troops were now carrying out a house-to-house search of the area.
One civilian was also killed in the attack, they said. "Terrorist attacked Christian Colony Warsak Road, Peshawar. Security forces promptly responded. All 4 suicide bombers killed. Search in progress," Director General Inter-Services Public Relations Asim Bajwa tweeted.
Terrorist attacked Christian Colony Warsak Road, Peshawar.Sec forces Promptly responded,all 4 suicide bombers killed.Search in progress.
— Gen Asim Bajwa (@AsimBajwaISPR) September 2, 2016
Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA), a faction of the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attempt, with a spokesman telling journalists in Peshawar they had killed many "infidels" in the assault.
The militants regularly exaggerate their claims.
JuA claimed it was behind Pakistan's deadliest attack this year, a bombing that also targeted Christians in a crowded Lahore park that killed 75 people on Easter Sunday.
And the group has said it was behind an attack on a hospital in the southwestern city of Quetta last month that killed 73.
Islamic State had also said it carried out that attack, though the Pakistani military said Thursday there was no evidence to support the claim.
Discrimination and violence against religious minorities is commonplace in Pakistan, where Muslims account for more than 90 percent of the population.
The Pakistani Taliban in particular routinely target minority groups, and in 2011 gunned down Shahbaz Bhatti, a Christian who was federal minister for minority affairs.
Taliban militants stormed a school in Peshawar in December 2014, killing more than 150 people, mostly children, in Pakistan's deadliest-ever terror attack.
The army launched an operation in June 2014 in a bid to wipe out militant bases in the tribal areas and so bring an end to the bloody insurgency that has cost thousands of civilian lives since 2004.
With inputs from AFP
Published Date: Sep 02, 2016 11:04 am | Updated Date: Sep 02, 2016 02:39 pm