Pakistani security forces on Saturday quelled a militant attack on a police station in which eight people were killed including four suicide bombers, one police and three civilians, police said.
The attackers targeted the main police station in Dera Ismail Khan city near the lawless tribal region, provincial information minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain told AFP.
Three suicide bombers detonated themselves and one was shot dead by the army, police chief of the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Akbar Hoti told AFP.
"Army and police units have entered the police station and a search operation is over," he said after an operation lasting over two hours.
"We have recovered bodies of four militants, they were all wearing suicide vests," he said.
One police official and three civilians were also killed in the operation, he said adding that eight others including a policeman were wounded.
"We are checking the identity of the civilian casualties to ascertain if they included any militants," he said.
Interior minister Rehman Malik blamed Taliban militants for the attack. "Terrorists attacked security forces," he told reporters.
Police spokesman Mohammad Hanif said earlier police shot dead two militants and at least one other blew himself up.
He said he believed about half a dozen militants stormed the station located in a sensitive area housing government offices, district courts and lawyers chambers.
They hurled hand grenades and opened fire on the office of the district police chief, he said. The police chief was unhurt, he added.
Authorities summoned troops and commandos ringed the area, police said.
A heavy exchange of gunfire erupted between militants and law enforcement agencies.
The gunfire has died down and security forces have launched a search operation inside the building, he said.
Police intercepted the militants before they could enter the main offices, Hoti said.
They exploded grenades and lobbed rockets soon after the attack, the provincial police chief said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. A police official Imtiaz Shah said some of the attackers were disguised as police officials.
Pakistan's remote and lawless northwestern region is a stronghold of Taliban and al Qaeda operatives and other Islamist militants opposed to the government.
Insurgents largely based in the tribal border lands have carried out bomb and gun attacks killing nearly 4,800 people across Pakistan since July 2007.
Pakistan has battled a homegrown insurgency for years, with more than 3,000 soldiers killed in the battle against militancy.
There were about 120 bomb attacks in Pakistan in 2011, up on the 96 bomb blasts in 2010, according to an AFP tally.
The latest attack underscores the potent rebel threat and a new wave of terrorism in the country.
It follows a remote-controlled bomb blast last Tuesday that killed 35 people and wounded more than 60 others in the deadliest attack in months in Jamrud town in the Taliban-hit tribal region of northwest Pakistan.
The explosion took place in a market in Jamrud, one of the towns of the troubled Khyber tribal region, which also used to serve as the main supply route for Nato forces operating in Afghanistan.
The border crossing for Nato supplies to foreign troops fighting in neighbouring Afghanistan remains closed, after Nato air strikes on November 26 killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.
Pakistan rejected the results of the military coalition's investigation into the incident and said the strikes had been a deliberate act of aggression, leaving relations floundering between the US and Pakistan.