DI KHAN/ KAMRA: The Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has claimed responsibility for the attack on a Pakistan Air Force (PAF) base in Kamra during the early hours of Thursday. At least eight militants and one security official were killed in the attack and the operation which lasted for over five hours.
TTP spokesperson Ihsanullah Ihsan has said that four suicide bombers had carried out the attack to take revenge for the killings of Baitullah Mehsud and Osama bin Laden. He claimed that the attackers had succeeded in achieving their targets and had given a “lethal blow”.
Claiming that dozens of personnel had been killed in the attack, Ihsan said that the Taliban can attack at will and will also target other locations.
A five-member inquiry committee, headed by Air Marshall Akhtar Hussain Bukhari, was constituted to investigate the attack.
Sepoy Muhammad Asif was killed during the operation. Air Commodore Muhammad Azam, who was leading the operation, was injured.
A statement from the air force said that the attack began at 2am and that the militants were equipped with RPGs and automatic weapons. It says that seven to eight militants had attacked the base.
Militants present outside the base had also fired RPGs, damaging one aircraft.
The PAF said that six militants were wearing suicide jackets. One of the militants had blown himself up while in hiding.
Search operations were also carried out in the nearby residential areas.
Eight suspects were arrested during the search operation.
The mobile phone of one of the militants was also recovered from the attack site.
Two blasts were also heard from the base during and after the operation. The first one early morning and the second one around 12:30pm.
A PAF statement said that a number of Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) had been found during the search operation and those that could not be safely removed were being detonated in a controlled environment.
The base is home to the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex that assembles Mirage and, with Chinese support, JF-17 fighter jets. It has previously come under attack twice, once in 2007 and then in 2009.
A suicide bomber had killed eight people in an attack on a check post outside the base on October 23, 2009. In December 2007, a suicide bomber had targeted a school bus and injured at least five children of employees at the base.
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Pakistan Army personnel and police officials are still conducting a search operation. The search operation is reported to be in its final stages.
Bomb Disposal Squad personnel are also present in the area.
Chinese officials, who were giving training to local personnel, were also reported to be present at the base.
Express News reports that the shifts at the base change at 2am and firing had begun during that time. Personnel present at the base had managed to hold the militants.
Express News correspondent Imran Asghar reports that the militants had entered the base from Pind Makhan.
The correspondent traveled to the location, showing an area with no proper roads and very little population. Video shots on Express News clearly showed a plane parked on the runway.
Air Commodore Muhammad Azam, who had earlier been injured, rejoined the operation after receiving treatment.
PAF authorities have ordered an inquiry into the incident.
Express News reports that two blasts have been heard from the airbase. There is no confirmation on the nature of the blasts as yet.
The bodies of four militants have been shifted to an unknown location.
Express News reports that the operation at the base has come to an end. A search operation in nearby areas is still under way.
According to Reuters, two soldiers and six militants were killed in the attack and operation that followed.
A search operation of the residential area is currently under way.
A spokesperson of the PAF has said all six militants who attacked the base have been killed. There were earlier reports that the number of attackers could have been between nine to ten.
Irfan Ghauri reports that the entire area is considered to be sensitive. Besides the airbase and Kamra Aeronautical Complex, other installations in the area are the AK Regiment camp in Mansar, the SSG base and Artillery headquarters in Attock. All of these are located within a few kilometres from each other.
Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) vehicles have also arrived at the base.
The Express Tribune correspondent Irfan Ghauri reports that sources have said one senior PAF officer injured in the attack is in critical condition. One plane was damaged in the attack.
The security of the base is handled by the Defence Services Guard.
Express News reports that seven militants have been killed and a number of officials have been injured. An air commodore who was supervising the operation was injured in the attack.
A search operation has also been launched in the Pind Makhan area. The terrorists had reportedly entered the base from that side.
A search operation is currently underway at the base and there are reports that three militants are possibly in hiding.
There are reports that aircraft present at the base were not damaged during the attack.
Reports from the area state that firing has stopped for now and no blasts have been heard.
No vehicles, including fire brigades and ambulances, are being allowed to enter the base.
Reports state that firing had earlier been going on from nine different points.
Express News reports that sources claim up to six militants have been killed so far.
One official speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity from within the base said he could hear gun and rocket fire, and the sound of hand grenades.
A statement from the PAF says that the body of a suicide bomber strapped with explosives was found close to the “impact area”.
Express News reports that five militants have been killed so far. There were reports that nine militants had attacked the airbase.
An operation is still under way at the airbase.
No ambulance has exited the airbase so far.
A senior officer who was reported to have been injured in the attack has been shifted to the hospital.
Intelligence reports from the Punjab Home Department had earlier warned that the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) was planning attacks on a Pakistan Air Force Base and other military and security establishments in Lahore before Eid.
There are reports that the AWAC could have been the target of the attack.
Sources have also stated that the number of militants is between nine to eleven.
A team of SSG commandos has reached the airbase.
There are also reports of PAF officials being killed in the attack.
AFP reports that witnesses have said they could hear gun and rocket fire coming from the facility, which contains a number of aircraft factories.
Express News reports that nine militants wearing suicide vets had attacked the airbase around 2am. The militants had crossed three check posts and were also reported to be wearing army uniforms.
Three squadrons present at the airbase were targeted.
Aircraft present at the base are being shifted to the hangers.
A Pakistan Army squad has arrived at the base to take part in the operation.
The army has been called in to control the situation. The militants also hurled hand grenades, sources added.