Terrorists attack naval air base
* Four killed, including two navy officials
* Maritime surveillance plane P-3C Orion destroyed in attack
* Naval, army commandos engage terrorists
* President, PM condemn attack
KARACHI: Terrorists attacked Pakistan Navy’s airbase PNS Mehran late on Sunday setting of seven high intensity explosives, killing four people and injuring several others.
The terrorists destroyed a P-3C Orion aircraft, a maritime patrol plane, in the daring attack while four people, including a navy lieutenant and fireman, were killed in the attack, a Pakistan Navy spokesman confirmed. The terrorists detonated explosives at the naval base situated at Shahrah-e-Faisal, after which an intense gunfight broke out between the attackers and paramilitary forces. The navy spokesman said that the terrorists were around 16 in number.
CID SSP Chaudhry Aslam, when contacted, informed that explosions took place near the hangers of the Pakistan Air Force, which has its airbase Faisal adjacent to PNS Mehran. Aslam added that the terrorists resorted to heavy firing after the blasts and were engaged by security forces and naval commandos.
Chief of Citizens-Police Liaison Committee, Ahmed Chinoy, said that fire broke out in three places inside the base after the blasts, while navy and army commandos and rangers conducted an operation against the terrorists who, according to a private TV channel, took positions inside a building at the base which also had some foreigners in it. US embassy spokesman confirmed that no American citizen was present at the base.
According to the eyewitnesses, they heard five blasts followed by intense firing, while heavy smoke could be seen rising from the blast site. They said that security forces cordoned off the whole affected area and cantonment after the blasts. The main thoroughfare of the city, Shahrah-e-Faisal, plunged into darkness following the blasts and security agencies blocked the road with barricades for common traffic. Panic gripped the entire locality and a large number of law enforcement agencies were positioned in and outside the Pakistan Air Force Base Faisal and PNS Mehran.
The Sindh government declared an emergency in government hospitals and all off duty doctors and support staff were called up. An AFP reporter saw scores of soldiers and navy commando reinforcements entering the base as smoke rose into the night sky. An AFP photographer heard seven blasts and periodic bursts of gunfire. There was no immediate claim of responsibility but Pakistan’s armed forces have long been on the frontline of attacks by the Taliban and other al Qaeda-linked terrorist groups.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and President Asif Ali Zardari strongly condemned the attack. Gilani ordered Interior Minister Rehman Malik to Karachi to “coordinate the security efforts being taken by the civil and military officials,” his office said in a statement. The prime minister also talked to the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, Khalid Shamim Wynne, and asked him to ensure coordinated action against terrorists. President Zardari said such cowardly acts would not deter the country’s resolve against fighting terrorism.
Pakistan Navy spokesman said that the “terrorists are armed with sophisticated weapons and they targeted a Pakistan Navy aircraft. This aircraft has been damaged,” he said, adding “Troops have engaged the terrorists.” Unconfirmed reports said six terrorists were killed in exchange of fire with security forces. Sindh Home Ministry official Sharfuddin Memon said “more than 10 terrorists” were inside the base and at least 10 people had been wounded, but could provide no further details. atif raza/agencies