Taliban claim attack on Minhas base; nine militants killed
[Dawn] The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistain (TTP) has grabbed credit for an attack on a Pak military airbase early Thursday, which left 10 people dead, including a soldier, and damaged at least one Air Force aircraft.
The cut-thoat assault renews questions about security at key military installations, particularly at a base which has been attacked before.
Taliban front man Ehsanullah Ehsan claimed nine heavily armed TTP bully boyz stormed the PAF Minhas airbase at Kamra, located about 70 kms from the capital Islamabad in Punjab's Attock city, sparking an intense shootout lasting almost five hours.
"The attack was launched from two different sides. A team of four members entered from one side and five from the other and than they launched a collective attack inside the camp," Ehsan told Dawn.com, speaking from
Qazi's guesthouse an undisclosed location, confirming that all nine attackers were killed in the assault.
The cut-thoat front man further claimed that they had achieved their targets and killed "more than a dozen security personnel" inside the base.
PAF officials also confirmed all nine bully boyz had been killed, however, they said only one Pak soldier, Mohammad Asif, had lost his life in the attack.
The Taliban front man also claimed the attackers had destroyed three JF-17 thunder aircraft as well.
PAF officials said that only one of aircraft at the base was damaged in the attack.
Several squadrons of fighters and surveillance planes are believed to be housed at Kamra's Minhas base. Officials also confirmed that over 30 planes were parked at the base, including state-of-the-art JF-17 Thunder fighter jets.
The airbase is a heavily guarded compound with the air force's Kamra Aeronautical Complex also in its vicinity, where Pakistain assembles and overhauls JF-17 Thunder fighter jets in collaboration with China. According to reports, at least 11 Chinese engineers were working at the Kamra Aeronautical Complex.
All Chinese and others foreign engineers and technicians involved in co-production of Chinese and Pakistain JF-17 Thunder aircraft project were shifted to a high profile secure location, official sources told Dawn.com, adding that the engineers were not present near the attack area.
Early morning attack
Although the attack took place at about 2 am, it is likely many of the soldiers on the base were awake for prayers or breakfast during the fasting month of Ramazan.
"The base has been cleared. The operation has been completed," a PAF front man said after over five hours of fierce shootout between bully boyz and Pak military commandos.
Although the TTP front man claims the bully boyz attacked the base from two sides, it was not clear how the attackers managed to enter the sprawling base.
The gunnies disguised themselves in uniforms armed with automatic weapons, grenades and boom jackets, the air force said.
"Other myrmidons then fired RPGs from outside the base boundary wall. As a result one PAF aircraft got damaged," it added in a statement.
Special Forces and police were scrambled to the scene. Gunfire, rocket and hand grenade kabooms were heard during heavy festivities. One officer told news agency AFP that he saw flames after waking up for his pre-dawn meal.
"There was an announcement by megaphone for soldiers not to move from the barracks and we were forbidden from going to the area where I saw the fire," he said.
"The attackers were wearing security force uniforms but I can't specify of which force uniform they were wearing," he added. "One body of a jacket wallah strapped with explosives has been found close to the impact area."
Base commander, Air Commodore Muhammad Azam, who led the operation against the attackers, was maimed, but is in stable, pH balanced condition, said the front man. One other security official also received injuries.
Revenge for bin Laden's death
Taliban front man Ehsan claimed the cut-thoat organization had carried out the attack "to avenge the deaths of the late Osama bin Laden
... who has left the building...
, the TTP Amir Baitullah Mehsud and other fighters who had been killed by the Pak security forces."
Pak forces are fighting a challenging war on their soil against Islamist bully boyz based, including al Qaeda and its offshoots and Pakistain's own version of Talibs.
The front man claimed the Taliban would continue to target security installations "until the establishment of a true Islamic state in Pakistain."
Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt has ordered investigation into the incident.
The Air Chief Marshal summoned a meeting today at Air headquarter Islamabad to analyse the situation after the attack and to mull over the initial intelligence reports. The meeting would be attended by top leadership of Pakistain Air Force.
Chief of Kamra aeronautical complex and Base Commander will brief the meeting.
The government and military's top leadership, including President Asif Ali
Ten Percent Zardari
... husband of the late Benazir Bhutto, who has been singularly lacking in curiosity about who done her in ...
, Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaque Pervez Kayani
... four star general, current Chief of Army Staff of the Mighty Pak Army. Kayani is the former Director General of ISI...
and Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf were notified of the attack, and the operation was being closely monitored by the army chief.
President Zardari strongly condemned the attack and expressed government's resolve to eliminate terrorism.
Intel of possible attack
In recent weeks, military intelligence had warned of the possibility of such an attack on military installations. However,
a hangover is the wrath of grapes...
there was no specific information about an attack being targeted at the Kamra base.
This is not the first time that Kamra has been the target of a cut-thoat attack. On Oct 23, 2009, a suicide bomber went kaboom!" at the entrance of the Pakistain Aeronautical Complex in Kamra. Two security officers and six other people were killed in the attack.
Last year, six Taliban gunnies attacked a naval base in Pakistain's biggest city Bloody Karachi
...formerly the capital of Pakistain, now merely its most important port and financial center. It may be the largest city in the world, with a population of 18 million, most of whom hate each other and many of whom are armed and dangerous...
to avenge the killing of Osama bin Laden. At least 10 military personnel were killed and 20 maimed in the 16-hour assault.
Posted by: Fred