Brazen attack: Terrorists storm Pakistan Navy base

Published: May 23, 2011

Flames erupt from a P3C-Orion aircraft at the Pakistan Navy aviation base Mehran in Karachi after a terrorist attack. PHOTO: AFP

KARACHI: 

Heavily-armed terrorists mounted a brazen attack on a Pakistan Navy installation adjacent to the Sharae Faisal on Sunday, killing at least four people, officials said, the fourth such attack on a heavily-guarded navy installation in the last four weeks.

Director-general public relations Pakistan Navy Irfanul Haq said that terrorists mounted simultaneous attacks on the base from the Main Gate, which is also called the Faisal Gate, the Museum Gate or the rear gate, and another vulnerable spot from the Shah Faisal Colony side.

He said they fired a number of rockets upon entering the base, one of which hit a hanger housing a P3C-Orion maritime surveillance aircraft which caught fire. He  said that no other aircraft had been damaged, but other sources said that at least three P3C-Orion had been damaged. Besides the P3C planes, there were also Fokker, Defender and helicopters at the base.

However, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said the militants had attacked from the rear of the base.

“We have been able to confine them to one building and an operation is underway either to kill or capture them.”

According to navy spokesperson Commander Salman, navy commandos and Marines were carrying out action against the terrorists. He said that the outer cordon was being mounted by Rangers personnel.

Haq confirmed four casualties in the attack and identified two of the deceased as Fireman Khalilur Rehman and Lieutenant Yasir.

Commander Salman Ali said: “An exchange of fire with terrorists is continuing. Their firing is fading away and we have launched a search operation.”

“It’s a terrorist attack. More than 10 terrorists are inside. They have attacked a navy air station located in a Pakistan Air Force base,” said Sindh home ministry official Sharfuddin Memon.

Eyewitnesses said that some of the terrorists arrived in three black-colored vehicles.

There were reports that some foreigners, presumably Americans, had been targeted in the attack, but the navy spokesperson denied these reports. Smoke and flames were seen rising from at least five spots, one of which was near a fuel depot.

An AFP photographer said he heard up to 10 blasts and periodic bursts of gunfire.

Army commandos in five or six trucks were also seen entering the base, while several vehicles of Rangers had also reached the spot.

Police, it is learnt, were not allowed to enter the base.

Official sources said that some of the terrorists had taken hostages and were engaged in a fierce firefight with the security forces.

They added that between 15 and 20 attackers were inside the base, and had attacked three hangars housing aircraft.

Al Qaeda-led Taliban militants, who have vowed to avenge the killing of their leader Osama bin Laden by US special forces, have carried out several attacks since his death on May 2.

The latest attack evoked memories of an assault on Pakistan Army headquarters in Rawalpindi in 2009, and revived concerns that even the most well-guarded institutions in the country remain vulnerable to militants.

The attack comes about four weeks after twin bombs hit buses carrying navy personnel, killing four people and wounding 56.

There have been no immediate claims of responsibility for the latest attack though.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani immediately sent the interior minister to Karachi to “coordinate the security efforts being taken by the civil and military officials,” his office said in a statement.

President Asif Ali Zardari also condemned the terrorist attack at PNS Mehran in Karachi.

He said such cowardly acts would not deter the country from fighting terrorism.

The standoff between the terrorists and navy commandos continued until the filing of this report.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 23rd, 2011.

Reader Comments (31)

  • Narejo
    May 23, 2011 - 4:06AM

    Earlier on, it seemed Karachi was immune from these sort of reprehensible terrorist attacks. Why did that change? With every Tariq, Daanish and Hakeemullah allowed to roam freely in the city and take shelter in the very many slums and communal no-go areas is it any wonder that the city has seen a surge in such attacks? I think not.

    Karachiities need to wake up and smell the coffee. More than half a million Afghani “refugees” alone live in the city. The city is already over-filled with 18 million people and cannot endure more influx from the rest of the country, let alone other forsaken countries of the world. Short of expelling actual Pakistanis from the city– which is of course not an option– all future inflow into the city needs to be regulated. Resources need to be concentrated on better policing and intelligence gathering. And we need to purge the aforementioned slums and no-go areas of “miscreants” and terrorists and their funders. Tall order true but ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. Recommend

  • amjad
    May 23, 2011 - 4:17AM

    Chicken have come home to roost. The responsibility rest with Ministry of Interior and the Intelligence Agencies. If there is no strategy to protect army bases , how can a common person feel safe. Please, no excuses.Recommend

  • Avanti
    May 23, 2011 - 5:33AM

    The Navy has complained that the civilian government is not providing adequate security cover to such an important wing of the armed forces. Recommend

  • Arindom
    May 23, 2011 - 6:10AM

    Will the establishment’s eyes open even now to the repuercussions of it’s “strategic assets” policy?

    Or is it still a CIA/RAW/Mossad conspiracy?Recommend

  • Tigon
    May 23, 2011 - 6:41AM

    Shameful! When will the Pakistan “establishment” wakeup and go after these terrorists and their breeding grounds all over our country?Recommend

  • Muhammad Imran Ali
    May 23, 2011 - 6:45AM

    Our present govt is failed. Now this time call to IMRAN KHAN ( PTI ) for humanity and PAKISTAN.

    O.! my ALLAH bless on my PAKISTANRecommend

  • May 23, 2011 - 6:48AM

    Attacks are intensifying after Pakistan showing US the door.Recommend

  • indian
    May 23, 2011 - 7:05AM

    Now Pakistan’s own dogs have started bitting them.Recommend

  • hgfjhgj
    May 23, 2011 - 7:14AM

    Don’t worry China will save us from all difficulties and we need to save our assets.Recommend

  • Siraj Ahsan
    May 23, 2011 - 7:19AM

    How can people move around in cantonment area so heavily loaded… they must have accomplices in military establishment. Is it a terrorist attack or cleansing attack one cant say… but one thing is sure we the people are being taken for a ride…Recommend

  • ani
    May 23, 2011 - 7:56AM

    The pet (terrorists) has morphed into a crocodile and is devouring its master now. But the master continues to behave like there is no problem. It all a RAW/CIA plot!Recommend

  • Imran Ahsan Mirza
    May 23, 2011 - 8:30AM

    The Taliban and Arab terroists have violated our soverignity time and again. It is high time to take war to them with extraordinary offensives. The Pakistani religious leaders have only half heartedly supported Pakistan military’s position in the last few years. Now it is time to ask them to be either with Pakistan or with terrorists, like George W. Bush asked us after 9/11. If the major Islamic parties fail to endorse the war against these militants than they should all be banned from any political or religious activities inside the country. Pakistan is bleeding and we are using band aid solutions to get it back on progressive footing. We are missing business and trade opportunities with India, China and Central Asia because of this religious militancy. Our society is maligned with these venomous ideologies for long. It is time to plan a massive offensive both ideologically and militarily. Enough is enough. Recommend

  • Hedingen
    May 23, 2011 - 9:07AM

    God alone knows how safe Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is…I dont think Pakistan itself has a clue on this subject.Recommend

  • Asim+Ali
    May 23, 2011 - 9:24AM

    Billion spent on security and this is the result? One cant get past the security checks in DHAs and other armed forces residential areas. I suppose these are designed to deter ordinary tax payers of this country from entering these areas. One thing is for sure. The smart ones are not opting for the armed forces (they are choosing to immigrate)Recommend

  • aslambeig
    May 23, 2011 - 9:26AM

    today pakistani army is paying for fighting america’s war on terror.Recommend

  • Pro Bono Publico
    May 23, 2011 - 10:19AM

    Our forces consist of the best men and officers, they will fight to the last and not given in so easily.Recommend

  • tribuner
    May 23, 2011 - 12:07PM

    lets attack NW now before its too late.Recommend

  • jssidhoo
    May 23, 2011 - 1:50PM

    @hgfjhgj: This is the price for taking help from the USA . What price you will have to pay China time will tell. Far less risky is to help yourself IQBAL”Khudi ko kar buland itna ke har taqder se pehle
    Khuda bande se ye poche bata teri raza kia hai”Recommend

  • samia
    May 23, 2011 - 2:26PM

    @indian: no apparently no indians were involved ;)Recommend

  • fauzia syed
    May 23, 2011 - 2:36PM

    i salute the shaheeds of our army who are giving their lives for this ungrateful country.what else will it take to make us aware that the mortal threat facing our country is the religious extremism and terrorism being , exported by saudi arabia and other middle eastern countries for their own dirty ends and their willing tools are some of our mullahs and political leaders. Recommend

  • FactCheck
    May 23, 2011 - 2:41PM

    Chickens are coming to roost! Recommend

  • Kalpesh
    May 23, 2011 - 2:42PM

    @Narejo:
    Need one Raj thakrey like we do have in MumbaiRecommend

  • FactCheck
    May 23, 2011 - 2:43PM

    @Muhammad Imran Ali:

    Allah is coming to make everything better. Soon, milk and honey will be raining along golden goose in every home.Recommend

  • Tahir
    May 23, 2011 - 3:12PM

    Who gets benifits from it apart from India and the US? Its one of these contries who are behind these attacks. Recommend

  • Ahmad Raza Hashmi
    May 23, 2011 - 3:42PM

    Infact after the staged play of Osama Operation, USA need to create a believe in the minds of general public that the person killed in Osama Operation was really the Osama. in my analysis they will continue this untill the last person of the public get believe on their stage show.Recommend

  • fazi
    May 23, 2011 - 7:58PM

    If our intelligences know about the time before assault at right place, so why does not know about those who attack (militants) ? Recommend

  • Momeen e Hind
    May 23, 2011 - 9:24PM

    Looks like Pak Army needs a boost in morale to take on these terrorists. Indian people, leadership and army are ready to help. But this will now be your+ our war on terror. and no, the Chinese don’t get a free ride. Deal? Deal! Recommend

  • May 25, 2011 - 6:15AM

    The government is only providing ample security cover for it’s own bigwigs!
    Check Rehman malik’s cartoon:

    http://fruitforbidden.wordpress.com/2011/05/25/rehman-maliks-imagination-gone-wild/Recommend

  • Ahad
    May 26, 2011 - 9:06PM

    strong textwhy the security could be lapse in the main air base of navy. i dont think so that it can be a single person stragety may be some one is spying in our army, navy and airforce base. so please base commander should be cool head that how he can secure the base. if our government give chance to speak out about security that no one terrorist can enter in our high security restricted area…… its 100% security lapse.

    because when the terrorist climbing through the wall where were they security guards or watch tower guards ?? can base commander give answer of this question ???Recommend

  • Ahad
    May 26, 2011 - 9:08PM

    the terrorist were easily walking to the hanger abt 1 to 2 kilo meters far away from wall from whey they entered in base.. so MR. COMODOR. will u tell is this not a security lapse ???Recommend

  • kamran khan
    Jun 10, 2011 - 12:50AM

    tryb to best next time pakistan and pakistan navy zinda badRecommend

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