Karachi: Announcing end of 17 hours siege of PNS Mehran base in Karachi, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said that four attackers were killed, 2 fled while 10 security personnel martyred and 15 others injured while Pakistan regained control of a naval base. It was the worst assault on a navel base since the GHQ was besieged in October 2009, putting further embarrassment on the armed forces three weeks after Osama bin Laden was found living under their noses.
Malik said the terror attack had been put down “successfully” and attackers had killed 10 security personnel and firemen. He said bodies of terrorists had been recovered. The head of another terrorist, presumed to be a suicide bomber, was found. Fifteen people were injured in the mayhem that began at 10.30 p.m. Sunday. The attackers used rocket-propelled grenades, “two rocket launchers and light machine guns, he added that “One of the attackers blew himself up” during the firefight, he said.
Malik informed that the 5 terrorist entered the base from eastern Maleer stream by cutting fence and attacked the aircrafts positioned at runway with rocket launchers. The attackers targeted P-3C Orion aircraft, two of which were destroyed. But acting quickly, Pakistan Rangers towed away some other Orion aircraft, he said.
Malik added: “Taliban is an enemy of Pakistan.” Malik told Rangers personnel and Navy commandos participated in the first phase of the operation and restricted terrorists to a particular area of the base. He said all terrorists were killed no other could be arrested. He said 5 terrorists were of fair complexion sporting small beard and were wearing black shorts and trousers.
Interior minister told the media 8 navy personnel and 2 Rangers were among who martyred in the operation while all 17 foreigners were rescued.
He said 11 Chinese and 6 American staff were present at base at the time attack but no one sustained injuries or had been made hostage. He said Lt. Yasir laid down his life to protect aircrafts and other strategic assets. Malik informed that the plotting of this attack was planned in Waziristan agency and Al-Qaeda and Taliban were behind this attack as a revenge of killing of Bin Laden.
Calling it a “pre-planned” operation at one of Pakistan’s biggest military bases, Malik said a high alert had been issued across the country after fears of more attacks from Islamists angered by Osama bin Laden’s killing. He said that many evidences have been collected and further probe would be made into this attack. Malik said that high alert has been placed on all strategic installments across the country.
Praising the soldiers who laid down their lives, Malik said that courage and bravery showed the world that Pakistan nation would not be surrendered and continue the fight against this menace of terrorism. He said foreigner hand could not be ruled out in this attack and external elements were handling these terrorists. He appealed to the nation and the media to come forward and join the government and security forces in the war against terrorism.
President Asif Ali Zardari condemned the attack on the base, and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani ordered Mr. Malik to immediately travel to Karachi.