PESHAWAR -- Six security personnel were killed in an overnight siege by dozens of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants on a Hungarian-owned oil and gas exploration site, police and the energy firm said Tuesday (May 23).
The site is near the Afghan border.
Pakistan has seen an increase in militancy since the end of the Afghan war in August 2021, with the TTP carrying out 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 Hangu district, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) 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, said Bahadur.
The dead included four members of the Frontier Constabulary and two Pakistani security guards, said police.
TTP takes responsibility
In a brief statement the TTP claimed responsibility and said its fighters had "attacked a Frontier Constabulary check post".
"The exchange of fire continued for more than an hour. Police forced the militants to flee," Bahadur said, also blaming the TTP.
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.
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.
Attackers from North Waziristan
The attackers came from nearby North Waziristan, which like KP borders Afghanistan and has historically been a hive of militancy, said Bahadur.
The area was heavily targeted by an Islamabad military offensive to rout Islamist fighters during the US-led post-9/11 war in Afghanistan.
The TTP was formed in 2007 by militants who splintered off from their allies in Afghanistan to focus their fight on Islamabad for supporting the US-led war effort.
Since August 2021, Islamabad has said TTP fighters are using Afghan soil to plot their attacks.
On Monday, officials said two empty girls' schools in North Waziristan were attacked overnight by militants, leaving nine classrooms destroyed but no casualties. The attack has not been claimed by any group.