Sunday, May 22, 2011

Developing: Terrorists Target Pakistani Naval Base; Multiple Casualties Reported

A group of terrorists managed to infiltrate a Pakistani naval base, PNS Mehran, and at least 12-15 people have been killed. The base is headquarters for the Pakistani Naval Air Arm.

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The raiding terrorists managed to get on the base and have destroyed aircraft, including a Pakistani P-3 Orion (which is used for naval surveillance).
They also blew up a PC3 Orion aircraft in one of the most brazen attacks in years.

Pakistani security personnel are still battling with the militants holed up at the Pakistan Air Force's Faisal airbase which also houses PNS Mehran, the naval air station, the country's interior minister Rehman Malik said.

"I can confirm that security forces have killed six of the attackers while the rest are holed up in one building of the air station and are fighting a losing battle," Malik told Aaj television channel.

Malik said heavy contingents of special naval and military commandoes and other security forces have been rushed to the base to control the situation.

Earlier, officials of the Citizens Police Liaison Committee confirmed that at least four naval personnel were killed. While other officials said six persons were injured, including a foreigner.

A Pakistan Navy spokesman, meanwhile, confirmed that two naval officers were injured in the attack.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani reportedly spoke to the heads of all three armed forces asking them to take immediate action to control the situation.

The terrorists, numbering between 12 and 15, targeted PNS Mehran where some Chinese engineers were reportedly engaged in work within the Faisal airbase, at about 10.40 pm, sources said.

The armed men lobbed several grenades and exchanged heavy fire with security forces. The firing died out at about 11.30 pm but erupted again at midnight.

The militants apparently entered the Naval base and hangers through the Pakistan Air Force museum, a source said.
While Pakistani security forces attempt to flush out the terrorists and secure the base, the attack is another blight on the Pakistani security forces and intel services record coming just weeks after the US raid successfully killed Osama bin Laden.

The attack highlights serious gaps in Pakistani security, and one has to wonder if the Pakistani nuclear facilities, which are spread throughout the country are under even greater threat than had been considered previously.

The Pakistanis had originally gotten three of the Orions, but one crashed a few years back. Now, the Pakistanis have one left for naval surveillance.

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