Officials said a militant assault on an army camp today killed at least seven people, an attack that came an hour after some 8,000 people camped there on their way to Islamabad to protest the government's recent move to reopen a supply route critical to the NATO offensive in neighboring Afghanistan, reported The Associated Press.
Today's pre-dawn attack took place in the usually peaceful eastern city of Gujrat, said Reuters. Thousands of supporters of the hardline Islamist group Defense of Pakistan Council had stayed there overnight on their way from Lahore to the capital, where they plan to demonstrate against the government's NATO supply route decision.
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Local police chief Basharat Mahmood said the army camp was attacked about an hour after speeches were given in Gujart by leaders of the Defense of Pakistan Council -- a group AP said does not openly support the Pakistani Taliban but is tied to militant groups like the Army of the Righteous (Lashkar-e-Taiba).
He said seven troops were killed as well as a policeman, according to AP, but Reuters cited a military statement saying six soldiers and a policeman had died.
The massive marching group, numbering some 8,000 Defense of Pakistan Council supporters, plan to protest in Islamabad today over last week's announcement that a NATO supply route closed by Pakistan in November would be re-opened, according to AP.
Islamabad cut off access to the route after a US airstrike killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, an incident that outraged the nation.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week formally apologized to Pakistan for the deadly strike.