At least three personnel of the Anti-Terrorism Force (ATF) were injured when terrorists armed with rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and automatic weapons tried to attack Pakistan Air Force’s Samugli base and the adjacent Quetta airport late Thursday night. Terrorists fired at least 10 rockets, which could not reach either the base or the airport, and the firefight continued till late in the night.
Airport Police SHO Athar Rasheed said five to six militants were hiding in a nearby seasonal nullah and wanted to attack either Quetta airport or Samugli airbase. “Security forces from the airbase opened fire after they spotted the attackers who were around half a kilometre from the base. The attackers fired six rockets in retaliation,” Rasheed added.
There were over five small explosions near the airbase. The terrorists also opened fire at ATF and Frontier Corps (FC) personnel, injuring three of them who were taken to the Combined Military Hospital (CMH).
Quetta police said they were informed by the PAF about the presence of terrorists heading towards the airport and the airbase. The area, for now, has been cordoned off. Until the filing of this report, the exchange of fire was under way between militants and security forces in Killi Khezi, about half kilometre from the airbase. Police said some rockets exploded in open areas, while others are being traced.
Home Secretary Akbar Hussain Durrani said the airport and the airbase have been cleared and there was no attack.
“The terrorists began running in the direction of Killi Khezi, about half a kilometre away, when they were stopped from going towards the airport,” he told The Express Tribune.
Separately, the military’s spokesperson Maj Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa said that no terrorist managed to enter the base, no base official was injured and no damage was done.
“Fleeing terrorists encountered by police/security away from Samugli base! Out of fire range,” he tweeted on the microblogging website Twitter.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 15th, 2014.