Six Pakistan security personnel were killed in an overnight siege by dozens of militants on a Hungarian-owned oil and gas exploration site, police and the energy firm said Tuesday.
Pakistan has seen an increase in militancy since the Taliban returned to power in neighboring 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 Bahadur.
The MOL Group confirmed the death toll but said none of its employees were killed.
Two wells near the attack site have “been temporarily shut down by remote access and the wells are now secured”, it said in a statement.
Police said the dead included four members of the Frontier Constabulary, a paramilitary police assistance force, and two Pakistani security guards.
“The exchange of fire continued for more than an hour. Police forced the militants to flee,” Bahadur said.
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, also confirmed the attack and the death toll.
The MOL Group has operated a Pakistan subsidiary since 1999 and employs 400 people there, according to its website.
“We are assessing the information,” a spokesman for the Hungarian embassy in Islamabad said, adding that no diplomatic action was planned.
Bahadur said the attackers came from the nearby North Waziristan district, which borders Afghanistan and has historically been a hive of militancy.
The area was heavily targeted by drone strikes and an Islamabad military offensive to rout Islamist fighters during the US-led post-9/11 war in Afghanistan.
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.