U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has expressed confidence in Pakistan's government following a predawn raid on militants holding hostages in the Pakistani army's headquarters in Rawalpindi.
Speaking in London Sunday, Clinton said that although militants are increasingly threatening the authority of the Pakistani state, U.S. officials believe no militant takeover is imminent and that the country's nuclear weapons are safe.
Daring Militant Attack
Militants began their assault on the heavily guarded army headquarters Saturday. Gunmen wearing military camouflage opened fire and killed six soldiers. Pakistani troops killed four attackers and captured two others, but other militants took hostages and holed up in an office building.
Pakistani commandos stormed the building early Sunday, freeing 39 hostages, killing four militants and capturing another. Officials said three hostages and two soldiers also were killed during the rescue.
Taliban Blamed for Attack
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack. Pakistani leaders blamed the Taliban and vowed to press forward with a long-awaited offensive against terrorist bases in South Waziristan, a tribal region bordering Afghanistan.
Reuters news agency quoted Interior Minister Rehman Malik as saying the operation in South Waziristan is "imminent."
The attack in Rawalpindi came at the end of a violent week. Last Monday, a suicide bomber attacked a U.N. office in Islamabad, killing five staff members, and on Friday another suicide bombing killed at least 50 people in the northwestern city of Peshawar.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.