ATTOCK: At least nine heavily armed militants barged in the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) Minhas Airbase at Kamra during wee hours here on Thursday.
According to official sources, the militants clad in air force uniforms were armed with Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs), automatic weapons, hand grenades, and were wearing suicide vests.
Some reports place the number of militants at nine and ten.
The militants made their way in the base using the cover of the night to their advantage. Source and residents living adjacent to the base told media men that gunfire and grenade explosions were first heard at around 2am with intermittent and intense firing lasting up to 6am, when all the militants were killed by security forces.
An intense firefight erupted between the air force commandos and the militants which lasted for around five hours.
PAF officials confirmed that all seven attackers have been killed while one soldier also lost his life in the attack and a Base commander, Air Commodore Muhammad Azam, who led the operation against the militants was injured in the attack. However, rescue workers confirmed that the base commander was in a stable condition.
It was not immediately clear how the attackers managed to enter the base this time.
Although the attack took place at about 2 am, it is likely many of the soldiers on the base were awake for prayers or breakfast during the fasting month of Ramadan.
“One body of a suicide bomber strapped with explosives has been found close to the impact area,” said an air force statement.
“Security personnel are now in the process of scanning the entire area to check for the presence of any other miscreant,” said the spokesman.
Following the attack in which one troop was killed, a base commander injured and one of the PAFs aircraft was damaged, Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt has ordered investigations of the incident.
Air Chief Marshal summoned a meeting today at Air headquarter Islamabad to analyze the situation after the attack and to mull over the initial intelligence reports. The meeting would be attended by top leadership of Pakistan Air Force.
Chief of Kamra aeronautical complex and Base Commander will brief the meeting.
Around thirty aircrafts including the JF-17 Thunder fighter jets manufactured in Pakistan with the collaboration of Chinese’s engineers were parked at the airbase, officials added.
However, no engineers were present in close proximity to where the attackers were cornered by the security forces.
In wake of the attack, all Chinese and others foreign engineers and technicians involved in co-production of Chinese and Pakistan JF-17 Thunder aircraft project were shifted to a high profile secure location, reports indicated.
Following the attack a joint search operation of air force commandos, and police was launched inside and around the premises of the base to search for hiding militants, if there were any. PAC Hospital Kamra was also put on high alert following the attack.
According to reports, the Tehrik-i-Taliban (TTP) spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan declined to comment on the incident whereas no other group has claimed responsibility for the attack as yet.
Security beefed up
The Ministry of Interior ordered to beef up security in and around all the military facilities and civil aviation airports in the country. Order has also been issued to step up security in Islamabad and Rawalpindi, as well.
Previous sabotage attempt
On Oct 23, 2009, a suicide bomber blew himself up at the entrance of the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex in Kamra. Two PAF workers and five civilians were killed in the attack.
updated 9 months, 12 days ago