Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

A thin line between fact-checking and propaganda in Gaza social media coverage

Read more

DEBATE

Gaza: How to Stop the Spiral? Israel Readies For Ground Offensive (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Gaza: How to Stop the Spiral? Israel Readies For Ground Offensive

Read more

FOCUS

Ireland's missing babies casting light on a dark history...

Read more

WEB NEWS

World Cup 2014: Germany-Brazil inspires the Web

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Boutros-Ghali: 'I wanted to reform the UN'

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

57 000 little problems

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

The Sarkozy 'threat'

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Budget challenge for India's new government

Read more

  • Hamas rockets reaching deeper into Israel

    Read more

  • French companies will have to accept anonymous CVs

    Read more

  • Ukrainian forces close in on Donetsk

    Read more

  • Germany asks US intelligence station chief to leave country

    Read more

  • Death toll rises in Gaza as militants target Israeli cities

    Read more

  • UN chief Ban Ki-moon appoints new Syria mediator

    Read more

  • Video: Muslims in China confront obstacles to Ramadan fasting

    Read more

  • Tour de France passes WWI Chemin des Dames battlefield

    Read more

  • Senegalese man awarded French visa in gay marriage debate

    Read more

  • Israel steps up airstrikes as diplomacy gets under way

    Read more

  • Argentina beat Netherlands on penalties to reach World Cup final

    Read more

  • Foiled French jihadist ‘targeted Louvre and Eiffel Tower’

    Read more

  • Obama in Texas to urge congressional action on child migrant crisis

    Read more

  • Iraq’s heritage 'in danger' from ISIS militants

    Read more

  • 100 years on, the Tour de France returns to the Western Front

    Read more

Asia-pacific

Islamist militants storm Pakistani air base

©

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-08-16

Heavily armed Islamist militants attacked a Pakistani airbase with suspected links to the country's nuclear programme in a pre-dawn raid on Thursday, killing one security official. The eight gunmen involved were all later shot dead in a gun battle.

REUTERS – Islamist militants armed with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons fought their way into one of Pakistan’s largest air bases on Thursday, the air force said, in a brazen challenge to the nuclear-armed country’s powerful military.

The attack was repelled and only one aircraft was damaged, said an air force spokesman, adding that the Minhas air base at Kamra, in central Punjab province, did not house nuclear weapons.

“No air base is a nuclear air base in Pakistan,” he said.

The gunbattle raged for hours, and eight militants and one soldier were killed, the spokesman said. Commandos were called in to reinforce and police armoured personnel carriers could be seen heading into the base.

The attackers moved through a nearby village under cover of darkness and climbed a nine foot (2.7 metre) wall strung with barbed wire to break into the base. Some were wearing military uniforms.

The assault cast doubts over official assertions that military operations had severely weakened militants waging a violent campaign to topple the U.S.-backed government and impose strict Islamic rule.

Security forces opened fire when militants strapped with suicide bombing vests approached aircraft hangars, prompting other militants to fire rocket-propelled grenades from outside the base’s walls, said the air force spokesman.

Base commander Air Commodore Muhammad Azam, who led the operation against the attackers, was shot in the shoulder, but is in stable condition, said spokesman Captain Tariq Mahmood.

Search operations for any other militants who may have been hiding in the complex after the attack had ended, he said.

Minhas, 75 km (45 miles) northwest of Islamabad, is adjacent to the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, a major air force research and development centre. Pakistan manufactures JF-17 fighter planes, jointly developed with China, at the site.

Suicide bombers launched attacks near the base and the aeronautical complex in 2007 and 2009, but news reports said defences were not breached.

Holy month

It was not immediately clear how the attackers managed to enter the sprawling base this time. Although the attack took place at about 2 a.m. (2100 GMT Wednesday), it is likely many of the soldiers on the base were awake for prayers or breakfast during the holy fasting month of Ramadan.

Faheemullah Khan, a civilian who lives near the base, said he was at a mosque praying when he heard gunfire and explosions which he thought were military exercises.

“Then we came to a restaurant, which is next to the main entrance to the base, and heard a louder explosion,” he said.

“We saw six police vans rush in, and realised something was wrong.”

Several squadrons of fighters and surveillance planes are believed to be based at Minhas.

”One body of a suicide bomber strapped with explosives has been found close to the impact area,” said an air force statement.

Pakistan’s Taliban movement has staged a number of high-profile attacks over the past few years, including one on army headquarters in Rawalpindi in 2009.

Last year, six Taliban gunmen attacked a naval base in Pakistan’s biggest city Karachi to avenge the killing of Osama bin Laden. At least 10 military personnel were killed and 20 wounded in the 16-hour assault.

Those attacks, and the latest one, are embarrassing for Pakistan’s military, which has ruled the country for more than half of its 65-year history and is seen as the most efficient state institution.

The Taliban, which is close to al Qaeda, is blamed for many of the suicide bombings across Pakistan, a strategic U.S. ally.

Pakistan’s military, one of the biggest in the world, has staged several offensives against Taliban strongholds in the unruly tribal areas near the border with Afghanistan.

But the operations have failed to break the back of the Taliban. Major suicide bombings have eased considerably over the past year but that could be due to a tactical shift and not pressure from the military.

Date created : 2012-08-16

  • PAKISTAN

    Pakistani Taliban claims deadly attack on Lahore police

    Read more

  • PAKISTAN-US

    Pakistan Islamists protest over NATO supply routes

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    Karachi bombings linked with Daniel Pearl murder

    Read more

Comments

COMMENT(S)