Nine militants killed in Pakistan air base attack (Third Lead)

August 16th, 2012 - 10:14 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Islamabad, Aug 16 (IANS) Nine militants were killed Thursday in Pakistan’s Punjab province after they attacked a key airbase of the country. Banned outfit Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) later claimed responsibility for it, Geo News reported.

Pakistan Air Force (PAF) spokesperson Tariq Mahmood confirmed that troops secured the airbase approximately eight hours after the attack.

The militants, who were wearing military uniform and lugging sophisticated weapons, were killed as security forces completed the operation at the PAF Kamra airbase, located some 70 km from Islamabad.

Tehreek-e-Taliban spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan said all the attackers were Pakistani and the plan had been hatched some time ago.

Citing sources Geo News, however, reported all the dead militants had been identified as foreigners.

The incident occurred early Thursday (about 2.00 a.m.) when militants stormed into the runway area of the PAF Base Minhas from the direction of a nearby village and attacked. It was followed by a fierce gun-battle between security forces and assailants.

The militants used hand grenades and rockets and badly damaged an aircraft. However, security officials managed to keep the militants away from damaging other aircraft during the attack.

One security official died during the attack while Base Commander Air Commodore Mohammad Azam, who oversaw and participated in the operation, suffered injuries.

According to a media report, about 30 aircraft normally remain parked at Kamra airbase

While reports said that one aircraft was destroyed in the attack, the PAF spokesperson denied it, adding that the attackers failed to reach any of the planes.

The attack was initiated when the militants were stopped at a checkpost. They had successfully crossed three checkposts. They were stopped at the fourth one after which they opened fire and hurled grenades.

BBC said that Kamra is one of Pakistan’s biggest airbases with fighter jets, including new JF-17 planes, being assembled there.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf strongly condemned the attack.

In May 2011, a group of militants had launched an attack on an airbase in the country’s port city of Karachi, in which at least one US-made P-3C Orion plane was destroyed and a number of security personnel were killed and wounded.

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