Monday, May 23, 2011

Pakistani military base attacked by Taliban

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- At least 10 members of Pakistan's military were killed in a gun battle between security forces and Taliban militants at a naval base in the coastal city of Karachi, authorities said Monday.

The clashes raged for hours after attackers with guns and grenades stormed the compound Sunday night. By Monday afternoon, the base had "been cleared from the terrorists," a Pakistani navy spokesman said.

In addition to the 10 dead, at least 15 other Pakistani troops were wounded in the fighting, Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik said.
Investigators have found the bodies of three attackers and believe a fourth is buried in debris, he said. They suspect two militants escaped, he said, citing witness reports.

The Pakistani Taliban said the attack at the Mehran naval air station was to avenge the killing of innocent civilians. The group's spokesman, Ihsan Ullah, told CNN on Monday that Pakistani security forces are carrying out those killings on the instruction of the United States in the name of a "war on terror."
One of the attackers had detonated a suicide jacket, Malik said, and another one was found wearing an undetonated jacket.

"We have daily 9/11 in this country. You see how we are suffering," he said. "And therefore, this is my appeal to the international community ... trust us, trust us, because this is a time we need you to support us morally."

Authorities said militants wielding rocket launchers, automatic weapons and hand grenades attacked the base about 11 p.m. Sunday. They used ladders to scale a wall at the back of the base and jumped into the compound, Malik said.
Two witnesses -- Amjad Bashir and Talha Hashmi -- reported at least 10 explosions in the subsequent hours.

Each blast was typically followed by a sustained exchange of gunfire, Hashmi said.
He said that several of the explosions -- thought to be the result of at least one military aircraft and a fuel tank catching fire and releasing plumes of smoke -- were particularly large.

Malik said the attackers destroyed two aircraft at the base.
One damaged plane is a P-3C Orion, according to Pakistani navy spokesman Irfan Ul Haq. Supplied by the U.S. government, the P-3C Orion is a "four-engine, turbo-prop, anti-submarine and maritime surveillance aircraft," according to the U.S. Navy's website.

The nation's military personnel responded with what an Malik called a "major operation" at the base, which is about 10 kilometers (6 miles) from Karachi's main airport.


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