Thursday, August 16, 2012

Taliban Attack On Pakistan Airbase Foiled

PAF Kamra - Photo: AFP
August 16, 2012 - Yesterday's assault on a key northern Pakistan airbase was successfully repelled. Pakistan Air Force (PAF) Minhas base at the town of Kamra outside Attock, was attacked by nine heavily armed members of Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). The pre-dawn attack happened at 2:00 a.m. on August 16, Pakistan time. The attackers were dressed in military fatigues. Most also wore suicide vests.

The militants used rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons, reports Reuters today, "in a brazen challenge to the nuclear-armed country’s powerful military." Only one aircraft was damaged, says Reuters. A report at Radio Australia says that two Pakistani soldiers were killed in the attack and that the base commander was shot in the shoulder as he led the counterattack but is in stable condition.

When the attackers neared aircraft hangars, reports The Express Tribune, "Security forces opened fire when militants approached aircraft hangars, prompting other militants to fire rocket-propelled grenades from outside the base’s walls, said the air force spokesperson."

All nine attackers were killed by Air Force troops, the Tribune report says. Eight died inside the airbase boundary wall and one "exploded himself outside the perimeters where he was hiding," the air force said. The fighting went on for over two hours. Millitary spokesperson Tariq Mahmood confirmed the base was "totally safe," says the Tribune story.

AIR BASE NOT NUCLEAR: Nearly all of the media reports about this attack have said that Minhas Airbase houses nuclear weapons. This appears to be false, however. Reuters quoted an air force spokesman who said that the Minhas airbase has no nuclear weapons. In fact, Reuters quoted him as saying that, "No air base is a nuclear air base in Pakistan."

Our earlier report: UNDER CONTROL: Militants Attacked, Entered Pakistan Nuclear Air Base