Islamabad: At least eight militants, wearing military uniform and lugging sophisticated weapons, were killed when they launched a brazen attack on a key Pakistani airbase in Punjab province.
The daring raid took place in Attock, a district which is considered to be one of the country’s nuclear arsenal storage sites.
The airbase commander, Air Commodore Mohammad Azam, was among those wounded in the assault by terrorists who broke into the heavily guarded area.
The early morning deadly attack came a year after militants struck at the Karachi airbase, destroying at least one US-made P-3C Orion plane and killing a number of security personnel.
The Thursday morning attack took place in Pakistan’s Punjab province at PAF Kamra airbase in Attock district, which is located some 70 km northwest of the capital Islamabad.
All the dead militants have been identified as foreigners, sources told Geo News.
“The aircraft parked at the base are safe and no JF Thunder planes were present at the facility,” the military said, referring to aircraft jointly developed with China.
About 30 aircraft normally remain parked at Kamra airbase, said a media report.
Authorities promptly beefed up security at military establishments across the country as security personnel battled the terrorists at Kamra, taking over 10 hours to secure the base.
According to a spokesperson with Pakistan Air Force (PAF), at about 2 a.m. Thursday, intense gunfire broke out between the militants and the security forces.
While media reports said that one aircraft was destroyed in the attack, the PAF spokesperson denied it and said 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 over three checkposts before they were stopped at the fourth one. They opened fire and hurled grenades. Huge smoke and fire were seen rising from the airbase following the attack, Xinhua quoted locals as saying.
Commandos were called in and paramilitary forces and police were quickly deployed outside the airbase to counter any second attack.
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 have strongly condemned the attack. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet.
Thursday’s attack on the Kamra airbase is the second of its kind launched by militants in the country over the past year or so.
On May 22, 2011, a group of militants launched an attack on an airbase in the country’s southern 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.