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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Terrorists attack Pakistan Minhas Air base at Kamra

Terrorists attack Pakistan  Minhas Air base at  Kamra :  State being challenged by terrorists – this has happened before – India has felt its impact, so too has US.  Today it is Pakistan – not as though Pak never had this before…… but

Reports state that armed militants stormed a major Pakistani air force base early Thursday [i.e. today 16th Aug 2012], sparking an hours-long firefight with security forces and raising concerns about the military’s ability to tamp down insurgents.  Six militants and two Pakistani military personnel were  reported to have been killed in the attack, which began about 2 a.m. at the Minhas base, about 37 miles northwest of Islamabad, an air force spokesman said.

BBC reports of several militants wearing military uniforms and suicide belts stormed Minhas air base at Kamra, near the capital Islamabad, just after dawn. Six militants were killed  and it is not clear  if other gunmen remain unaccounted for.  All Pakistan's air bases have been placed on high alert following the attack.

Locals were quoted to have heard intense gunfire and see flames leaping up from inside the base at the air force complex, although rocket-propelled grenades fired from outside are said to have damaged one aircraft. Earlier reports said two soldiers had died, but this was later revised.  It was not immediately clear how the attackers managed to enter the base.

The militants, described as “terrorists” in statement issued by the air force, were armed with guns, grenades and rocket launchers. The bodies of the six dead militants were strapped with suicide jackets, the spokesman said. One fighter aircraft was damaged in the attack.  One report suggests that among those injured was the commander of the base, Air Commodore Muhammad Azam, who was leading the operations.  The attack challenges official assertions that Pakistan’s military had severely weakened militants waging a violent campaign to topple the U.S.-backed government and impose strict Islamic rule.

Minhas is one of Pakistan's biggest air bases with about 30 fighter jets including new JF-17 planes - jointly developed with China - that are being assembled there. It is about 60km (35 miles) north-west of Islamabad.  The PAC JF-17 Thunder s a light-weight, single-engine, multi-role combat aircraft developed jointly by the Pakistan Air Force, the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) and the Chengdu Aircraft Industries Corporation (CAC) of China. Its designation "JF-17 Thunder" by Pakistan is short for "Joint Fighter-17", while the designation "FC-1 Xiaolong" by China means "Fighter China-1 Fierce Dragon". These planes  can carry a variety of missiles and bombs, including air to air and air to ground.  There are reports that Pakistan has already started induction, and has plans to induct around 250 units.

No group has said it carried out the attack but Islamist militants linked to the Pakistani Taliban have previously targeted military bases.

As one could recall in May 2011, militants attacked the Mehran naval air base in Karachi, killing 10 soldiers. It took security forces about 17 hours to secure the base on that occasion. In 2009 a suicide bomber killed six people at a military checkpoint in Kamra, in Punjab province.  For the attacks in May 2011, Taliban took responsibility for the attack.  During that time, nearly 10 militants breached  at least three barriers and tried to target Saab-2000 surveillance aircraft.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.
16th August 2012.

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