Six Pakistan security personnel were killed in an overnight siege by dozens of militants on a Hungarian-owned oil and gas exploration site, police said Tuesday.
Pakistan has seen an increase in militancy since the Taliban returned to power in neighbouring Afghanistan in 2021, with attacks mostly targeting security forces and foreign interests accused of exploitation.
About 50 fighters attacked a site owned by the Budapest-headquartered MOL Group around midnight in the Hangu district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, district police chief Asif Bahadur told AFP.
“They were armed with light and heavy weapons and fired mortar shells, killing six security personnel at the main entrance” to the remote site near the Afghan border, said Mr. Bahadur.
He said the dead included four members of the paramilitary police assistance force the Frontier Constabulary and two Pakistani private security guards for the firm.
“The exchange of fire continued for more than an hour. Police forced the militants to flee,” Mr Bahadur added.
He blamed the attack on Pakistan’s domestic chapter of the Taliban movement — the most active militant group in the region — although there has been no claim of responsibility.
Noor Wali Khan, a second district police official, confirmed the attack and the death toll. The MOL Group has operated a Pakistan subsidiary since 1999 and employs 400 people in the country, according to their website.
“We are assessing the information,” a spokesman for the Hungarian embassy in Islamabad said, adding that no diplomatic action was planned.
The MOL Group did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Mr. Bahadur said the attackers came from the nearby North Waziristan district, which borders Afghanistan and has historically been a hive of militancy.
During America’s post-9/11 invasion of Afghanistan, the area was heavily targeted by drone strikes and an Islamabad military offensive to rout Islamist fighters.
The Pakistan Taliban — known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) — was formed in 2007 by militants who splintered off from the Afghan Taliban to focus their fight on Islamabad for supporting America’s invasion.
On Monday, officials said two empty girls’ schools in the province were attacked overnight by militants, leaving nine classrooms destroyed but no casualties. The attack has not been claimed by any group.