SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Nine heavily armed militants wearing military uniforms and suicide belts raided a major Pakistan Air Force (PAF) base in the pre-dawn hours Thursday, but all were killed by the security forces, officials said.
According to PAF spokesman Tariq Mahmood‚ eight assailants were killed inside the base located at Kamra, 70km north west of Islamabad and the ninth exploded himself outside the premises where he was hiding.
One soldier who was the first to challenge the intruders was killed while the base commander Air Commodore Muhammad Azam who led the operation against the attackers was wounded but was in stable condition, the spokesman said.
One aircraft was damaged by rocket-propelled grenades fired by the assailants from outside the boundary wall when they launched the attack at 2:00am local time on the Minhas Base adjoining the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex at Kamra in Punjab province.
JF-17 Thunder Jets, jointly produced by China and Pakistan, are assembled and overhauled at the Kamra aeronautical complex and source-based media reports said none of about a dozen Chinese engineers working there was present in the area at the time of the attack.
Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack.
The assault came amid a nationwide security alert against feared terror attacks during the independence day observed on Tuesday and three-day Muslim festival of Eid starting from Monday at the end of the holy Ramadan fasting month.
It followed a reported statement by US Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta in an interview to an international wire service that Pakistan was set to launch a military operation in North Waziristan tribal area, which Washington says is a base of Haqqani network involved in attacks on coalition forces in Afghanistan.
This was not the first time that Kamra has been targeted. In October 2009, a suicide bomber blew himself up at the entrance of the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, kiling two security officers and six civilians. Earlier in December 2007, a suicide car bomber hit a school bus, wounding at least five children of the base employees.
Last year, Taliban gunmen attacked a naval base in Pakistan’s biggest city Karachi to avenge the killing of Osama bin Laden, killing 10 military personnel and injuring 20 in the 16-hour assault.
Federal Defence Minister Syed Naveed Qamar told reporters here that the preparedness of the PAF and its prompt response foiled the terrorists’ designs. He said no terrorist was captured aliver.
PAF authorities have ordered an inquiry into the Kamra incident, while Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf in a statement condemned the attack and praised the gallantry of the forces in successfully clearing the base of the militants.
The prime minister said the swift operation showed the high preparedness and rapid response of Pakistan Air Force. Such acts of terrorism, the prime minister said, cannot weaken the resolve of the government to fight terrorists and extremists.
Ashraf said that the government and people of Pakistan are fully behind the Armed forces who have never hesitated to sacrifice their lives for the sovereignty‚ territorial integrity and security of Pakistan.—www.shafaqna.com/english