Navy revises down the number of attackers

Published: May 26, 2011
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The initial count of the terrorists stood at around 10 to 12, number now amended to four. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

The initial count of the terrorists stood at around 10 to 12, number now amended to four. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

KARACHI: 

The Pakistan Navy on Wednesday retracted the number of Mehran base attackers that it cited in its First Information Report (FIR) lodged at the Shahrae Faisal police station on Tuesday.

The initial count of the terrorists provided by the navy personnel stood at around 10 to 12. However, on Wednesday they amended the number to four.

The new headcount is more in line with the one provided by Interior Minister Rehman Malik, who said there were six terrorists who launched the assault on the PNS Mehran Airbase.

The police have started investigations into the attack.

According to sources, the police have recorded statements of eight navy and two Rangers’ personnel who were injured in the attack.

The sources said that the police were being forced into reducing the number of terrorists nominated in the FIR because the Pakistan Navy’s numbers largely contradicted those provided by the interior minister who had said that four of the attackers had been killed while two had managed to escape.

Shahrae Faisal senior investigation officer (SIO) Sajjad Ali, however, denied that the navy personnel were putting any sort of pressure on the police to reduce the number of nominated terrorists in the FIR. “It’s not true. We have no pressure from the navy.”

Responding to a query regarding the sudden decline in numbers, the SIO said, “We cannot rely solely on the FIR since it is just the initial report. What’s more important is the statements as they play a vital role in the investigation process.”

“None of them saw more than four terrorists. In fact some only saw three,” he added. Quoting some of the victims, the SIO said, “They [the terrorists] entered and began firing rockets, hurling hand grenades and then resorted to firing. The number of attackers was unclear, but we did not see more than three to four of them.”

He added that the police had recovered nearly one thousand empty casings, including seven rocket shells. He said they were unaware of the exact number of hand grenades that were lobbed.

The empty shells found from the site came from sub-machine guns, 222 rifles and G-3 guns.

The bodies of the terrorists who were killed in the operation are being kept at the Edhi morgue in Sohrab Goth. The police are waiting for the postmortem and DNA reports.

The SIO said that the fingerprints of the four terrorists had been gathered and they were seeking NADRA’s help in identifying the attackers.

He said the ladder used by the terrorists to climb over the walls to enter the base had not been provided to the police for examination.

Sources close to the investigation told The Express Tribune that the fingerprints of the terrorists had been compared against nearly 360,000 from the existing records, but there had been no matches so far.

However, SIO Ali said that the process was ongoing and nothing could be said for certain yet.

Terrorists’ cell-phone recovered

There were reports that the investigation committee has recovered one cell-phone from the naval base. According to reports, the cell-phone may belong to one of the terrorists who managed to escape during the 17-hour gun battle. Investigators, along with the help of NADRA, are trying to trace the ownership of the SIM recovered from the cell phone and locate the absconding terrorists and their network.

“I have no confirmation regarding the recovery of a cell-phone of the terrorists who managed to get away,” Navy DG PR Irfanul Haq told The Express Tribune. “A committee has been constituted and the investigation is under way. Everything will be shared with the media, but it will take some time,” he added.

Suspects detained over PNS Mehran attack

According to some unconfirmed reports, the intelligence and law enforcement agencies have detained at least three suspects in a raid carried out in Ghausia Colony, Shah Faisal Colony No 5, and also seized a house on the suspicion that the terrorists might have been staying there prior to the attack.

Ghausia Colony is located behind the naval base. However, no official confirmed any arrest in connection with Sunday’s attack. “There have been no arrests,” SIO Ali told The Express Tribune, adding: “No house has been sealed either.”

Published in The Express Tribune, May 26th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (10)

  • Rajesh Kumar
    May 26, 2011 - 10:10AM

    I really don’t understand; do they need to lie. It happened and we have accept it. At least be honest and publish correct information.Recommend

  • Zaheen
    May 26, 2011 - 11:47AM

    Even more shockingly embarassing – such a small handful of terrorist causing so much damage and on top of that, one escapes. Unbelievable! This proves the terrorist were extremely skillful, well equiped and trained by a Foreign Hand to bring down Pakistan. An act of war indeed and it is upto Pakistan to look at this more skillfuly and not at face value.Recommend

  • Aamer
    May 26, 2011 - 1:00PM

    That only makes the action even more humiliating. Those who ”defended” the base(whatever that was) don’t even know how many attackers were around. And now they tell us only 4 terrorists came in and killed 10 ‘jawan’s’ and destroyed two ultra-expensive equipments and for the cherry they held the base for 16hours straight, 4 men?

    Are you sure 4? or 40? Because if its 4, than does our Military know the number of Indian troops? The country their always eager to fight a war with?

    Fact is even after the attacks all our Naval Chief was concerned about was his convoy, hand picked sequence of cars, all white, 2 BMW’s and 1 Land Cruiser.

    If Pakistan has any sense left into it, we should cut the defence budget by 50% this year and put the money straight into education. Its useless to spend billions when 4 men can attack a base. Stop the moneyRecommend

  • 3footninja
    May 26, 2011 - 1:36PM

    Poor guys are stuck in the middle and don’t know what their stance should be:

    1) If they say 4 attackers, it will prove how incompetent they were that a mere 4 guys infiltrated one of their most well guarded bases, and managed to hold off 100 commandos for almost 16 hours.

    2) If they say 12 attackers, then since they managed to kill only 4, it mean 8 have escaped. Even more humiliation that a group of 100 commandos couldn’t prevent these guys from escaping, let alone take them out.

    My oh my, what a predicament! Incompetence at his best! lol at the army/navy/politicians!Recommend

  • Aurangzeb Rao
    May 26, 2011 - 1:47PM

    Its even more shameful.Recommend

  • SHA
    May 26, 2011 - 2:08PM

    @3footninja… you’ve nailed it well… couldnt have put it better…Recommend

  • Sheryar
    May 26, 2011 - 3:26PM

    It really shocking to see the attitude of our security agencies after the attack, i am very pessimistic about the future of this country. They couldn’t decide the number of attackers, in FIR they said there were 12 attackers and now they reduced the number to 4. They cant even prepare a case against the attackers then they accuse judiciary of letting these terrorists free. Judiciary have to see the legal aspects now this case is already weakened from legal point of view. Even now if someone gets caught he will take advantage of this negligence by security agencies. So sad.Recommend

  • Mirza
    May 26, 2011 - 9:05PM

    @3footninja:
    I agree with what you said. All the confusion would be gone if they include/exclude the inside people! The inside people simply melted away. Recommend

  • May 26, 2011 - 11:12PM

    Vienna,26-05-2011
    What about the head found severed to make the total four plus half ? Was it gifted away
    as a souvenir not covered by eye witnesses present?
    -Kulamarva BalakrishnaRecommend

  • Seher siddiqui
    May 27, 2011 - 9:09PM

    I am not surprised on security lapses one after the other because those responsiblle for security are more interested and thus professionalising in in banking, real estate,housing societies,medical colleges, engineering colleges, dairy forms, insurance, transport, asset management,fertilisers,cement,stock brokerage,and political brokerage. I think they have no time
    for security matters.Recommend

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